European clubs say will boycott FIFA’s Club World Cup

New Delhi, March 16, 2019: Europe’s top clubs say they will boycott FIFA’s proposed new Club World Cup, leaving FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s latest plans in serious doubt and risking a major split in the world game.

Infantino had hoped to get backing this week for creating two new, potentially money-spinning, tournaments – a new worldwide Nations League for national teams and a fresh 24-team Club World Cup to start with a ‘pilot’ edition in 2021 according to indianexpress.com.

However, even before Friday’s meeting of the ruling FIFA Council, Infantino was forced to drop the Nations League plan after his own task force found there was no consensus for such a tournament and a lack of space in the international calendar.

Infantino still wants to move ahead with his plans for a ‘pilot edition’ of a 24-team Club World Cup, with the council expected to allow the idea to move forward ahead of June’s FIFA Congress which would be asked to endorse the plan.

But a letter to UEFA and Infantino from the European Club Association (ECA) head Andrea Agnelli, chairman of Italian side Juventus, and signed by 15 members of the organisation’s board, including officials of Manchester United, Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam, made clear the opposition.

The letter, sections of which were published in the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung says they are “firmly against any approval of a revised Club World Cup at this point in time and confirm that no ECA clubs would take part to such a competition”.

According to the reports published in indianexpress.com the ECA says a decision on potential new competitions can only be made as part of an agreed framework for the international match calendar post-2024.

A spokesperson for the ECA declined to comment on the content of the letter but told Reuters that they would be meeting later this month to discuss the situation.

“We are following developments around the FIFA Council closely. Any decision impacting our members will be discussed and assessed in detail at our upcoming board meeting to be held on 26th March,” they said.

‘CONTRACTUAL COMMITMENTS’

The letter also referenced a 2015 agreement between FIFA and the ECA and said that any decision which was against their wishes would “not be in accordance” with it.

The agreement stated that “any changes to the International Match Calendar… will require explicit consent from ECA.”

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Infantino is expected to hold a news conference following the council meeting on Friday.

Indianexpress.com further added that the Club World Cup is currently an annual seven-team tournament which attracts minimal interest in Europe — the centre of the football business.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, is unlikely to fight Infantino’s plans at Friday’s council, with the proposal expected to be passed on to a further meeting ahead of June’s congress.

But it is hard to see how a 2021 edition could go ahead without the star attractions — Europe’s top clubs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *