Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Agreement between clubs and FIFA/UEFA

World football's governing body FIFA says it has reached an agreement with top European clubs to dissolve the controversial G14 group and end a longstanding row over player compensation.

FIFA announced that it had signed a letter of intent with European football's governing body UEFA and representatives from 12 top teams that would lead to "the dissolution of the G-14 with the withdrawal of its claims in court."

The joint statement said that FIFA and UEFA would in return begin making "financial contributions for player participation in European Championships and World Cups, subject to the approval of their respective bodies."

UEFA said its European Club Forum would be replaced by a new independent "European Club Association (ECA)."

The statement said the new association would consist of more than 100 European clubs, including representatives from all of UEFA's 53 national associations. The reforms are due to be discussed by the European Club Forum at a meeting on Monday.

G14, which currently represents 18 of Europe's top teams including Italy's AC Milan, Inter and Juventus, has been backing Belgian club Charleroi against FIFA in a court case centred on compensation for clubs whose players are injured on international duty.

Charleroi lost Abdelmajid Oulmers in November 2004 for eight months after he was injured playing for Morocco and still had to pay his salary although he could not turn out for the club. Similar cases have been brought by Lyon in France and Atletico Madrid in Spain.

Eight G14 clubs were among the 12 teams signing Tuesday's document with representatives from Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Juventus, Lyon, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Ajax all backing the agreement. Milan had vice-president Adriano Galliani and director Umberto Gandini in Zurich, while Chief Executive Jean-Claude Blanc represented Juve.

FIFA President Joseph Blatter said in a statement: "Something very special has happened today. The clubs, which are the basic cells of our game and fundamental to its thriving, are at last to become a part of the pyramidal football organisation.

"Today's letter of intent gives a big boost to football. We have reached this positive conclusion by taking care of the legitimate aspirations and requests of clubs to access the decision-making levels of international football."

UEFA President Michel Platini: "The demands of the clubs to be heard and to be associated, also financially, are well-founded. The letter of intent signed today is not a political step, but a logical one."

[Joint FIFA/UEFA Statement]

Source: Reuters / FIFA / UEFA

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