Europeans Threaten Boycott Of New FIFA Club Event
By Community | March 18, 2019
FIFA will go ahead with a new 24-team Club World Cup starting in 2021, putting the world governing body in conflict with Europe’s top clubs.
President Gianni Infantino announced that FIFA had made the decision at its council meeting on Friday.
The competition has immediately faced a boycott from Europe’s leading clubs.
The European Club Association (ECA), which represents 232 European clubs, including all the major teams, wrote a letter asking Infantino not to make a decision now, and saying they would not take part in the 2021 tournament.
Following Infantino’s announcement, a spokesperson for the ECA said: “ECA clubs will not participate in 2021 CWC and will assess participation in editions of the competition post-2024.”
UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, later said it had a duty to protect the health of players and that its members of the FIFA Council had unanimously voted against the proposal.
“UEFA shares ECA’s view that the International Match Calendar in 2021 does not provide any realistic option to stage a 24-team Club World Cup and that it should furthermore not be played at a time when players should have a well-deserved rest period,” FIFA said in a statement.
The tournament would be held instead of the Confederations Cup in June 2021. No host nation has been decided yet, Infantino said.
“We went through a consultation process, spoke with everyone, some agree, others disagree, you have different views and positions,” said Infantino at a press conference.
“I am feeling very positive from the discussions and I am sure that at the end we will be very happy.”
“I understand the situation in Europe with stakeholders, the leagues, the clubs, small clubs, big clubs, the players’ union — it’s more complex than other countries in the world.
He added, “In football we are not waging war against each other. I am confident we can have a good and fruitful cooperation.”
Infantino said he believed a 48-team World Cup in 2022 in Qatar is “feasible” and that FIFA would continue to study the options.
He said no decision will be made on expanding the tournament, with possible additional host nations, until June.