In light of the range of predisposed decisions and communications made by FIFA recently in amending or planning future reform of the International Match Calendar (IMC), in direct and unilateral breach of certain legal obligations, ECA – as the voice of professional football clubs of Europe – feels compelled to issue the following.
Football clubs have always been a fundamental and respected voice in shaping the future of the IMC. They are the cornerstone of football, being the drivers of competitions; the primary hub and home of player development and investment; and the fulcrum of fans and their local communities. This is why the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which governs the relationship between ECA and FIFA, places the IMC at its core. This MoU between the clubs and FIFA was agreed upon following detailed negotiations and joint approval on the IMC, as well as the processes that govern the IMC.
ECA has been clear in its position that changes are needed to the IMC. A modernised and simpler IMC needs to be founded on fewer release windows; better player protection and health; and a balanced approach to club and international football. To that end, ECA has made clear – publicly, privately and repeatedly – its availability to engage with FIFA to agree what those changes should be.
ECA has therefore followed with grave concern and alarm FIFA’s launch of active PR campaigns and much pretence, apparently seeking to railroad through reforms to the IMC, particularly the introduction of a biennial World Cup.
Aside from the notable lack of genuine (or indeed any) consultation, and as many stakeholders have pointed out in recent days, FIFA’s proposals would lead to a direct and destructive impact on the club game, both domestically and internationally. In addition, the proposals would put players’ health and wellbeing at risk. They would dilute the value and meaning of club and country competitions. They would diminish and conflict with women’s and youth football – being under-represented areas of the game where ECA and others are committing significant time, talent and resources – while also subordinating other sporting tournaments and interests at all levels worldwide.
Given the centrality of the IMC to club football, and of club football to the IMC, ECA reiterates in the most unambiguous terms that any decisions relating to its future can only come about with the consent of football clubs, with player welfare at their heart – and in keeping with legally binding obligations which ordinarily should not need re-stating.
In short, the reform of the IMC must be founded on jointly-agreed outcomes, balanced in the interests of all, following honest and detailed consultation – not simply railroaded in the singular interests of FIFA on the back of a series of PR campaigns.
The original article can be found here.