FIFA to ratify UEFA fixture reduction

The number of international matches played in a year is likely to be slashed after European clubs and UEFA reached an agreement to change the international calendar.

Football News: Cesc Fabregas, Spain

The deal would see an average of nine international matches played a year rather than 12, with nine double-headers over a two-year period and no one-off friendlies such as England vs Holland.

However, FIFA have to ratify the deal and that remains a stumbling block after the European Clubs' Association (ECA) last week announced a boycott on further talks after the world governing body steadfastly refused to accept the clubs' demands.

The compromise deal was announced at the European Clubs' Association (ECA) general assembly in Warsaw - the clubs last year demanded the number of internationals be halved to six a year.

UEFA also agreed to take out insurance to cover the wages of all players injured on international duty, starting at Euro 2012, and to increase the amount of money paid to clubs for their players taking part in the tournament.

The amount was 55 million euros for the last tournament and the new figure - a "substantial increase" according to the ECA - will be announced next month.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed however that the clubs' boycott on talks with FIFA still stands.

Rummenigge said: "The agreement with UEFA is a major breakthrough for European club football.

"With this agreement, UEFA clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of national team football.

"The negotiations have not always proved easy, but were always conducted in a fair and respectful manner. I sincerely thank UEFA, in particular UEFA president Michel Platini, on behalf of all European clubs and look forward to our continued co-operation.

"This is once more proof that in the European football family solutions can be found in a co-operative and fair way."

He added: "While an agreement has been reached with UEFA, the situation remains unsatisfactory in relation to FIFA.

"Unfortunately, discussions with the FIFA president have failed to lead to a satisfactory outcome which takes account of the clubs' demands."

The agreement on the proposals of the international calendar would see the unpopular friendly date in August ditched.

In terms of the insurance, the ECA said in a statement: "UEFA will establish starting June 2012, for the start of the EURO in Poland/Ukraine, an insurance covering the injury risk of players while on international team duty.

"This insurance is valid for all players registered with a European club, irrespective of their nationality, and for all matches mentioned in the international calendar, including both official and friendly matches."

The ECA statement added that in future, the clubs will have a 'referral right' meaning they have to give their consent to all decisions affecting European club football.

The clubs have however been unable to persuade UEFA to back them in their opposition to the timing of the African Nations Cup in January and February. The agreement merely states that the tournament "shall start as soon as possible in January".

In response, FIFA pointed out that only they have the power to make changes to the calendar.

A statement said: "FIFA is surprised by recent comments made by ECA stating that they are not satisfied with their discussions with football's world governing body regarding topics of interest to the European clubs, including the international match calendar.

"ECA representatives are in fact members of several FIFA committees and are always invited to take part in the discussions on such topics, together with representatives from clubs of other confederations.

"FIFA remains, as always, willing to discuss with ECA on these topics, as it does with all other stakeholders in the world football community.

"Finally, FIFA would like to recall that the international dates and the international match calendar have to be applied on a worldwide basis and that this calendar is ultimately regulated by FIFA, as football's world governing body."

The next meeting to discuss the international match calendar will be on March 5 but UEFA will have to put forward the ECA's position.

FIFA added: "Both ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and ECA general secretary Michele Centenaro are members of this working group and have been invited to attend the meeting, but have declined to take part in the meeting.

"ECA representatives have previously declined attendance to other FIFA committee meetings, making it very difficult for progress to be made in discussions with the European clubs."

 



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