Monday, 21 January 2008

FIFA and UEFA to compensate clubs

FIFA and UEFA have agreed to pay around £128 million over the next six years to compensate clubs whose players take part in World Cup and European championship finals.

The deal, involving a £56 million payment by FIFA and approximately £72 million by UEFA, was announced following a meeting with club representatives at UEFA's headquarters in Switzerland on Monday.

It forms part of a package of agreements aimed at ending years of legal wrangling between the continent's top clubs and the sport's governing bodies.

As well as receiving compensation when their players are on international duty, the clubs have received assurances FIFA and UEFA will look to reduce the number of international matches.

In return, the 18 members of the self-appointed G14 group of top clubs are set to disband, making way for a new independent European Club Association (ECA).

Based largely on UEFA's existing club forum, the association will comprise 103 clubs from all 53 national associations with membership determined solely on sporting achievements.

The precise number of clubs from each national association will be established every two years at the end of the UEFA season on the basis of the UEFA ranking of its member associations according to the following principles.

The three highest-ranking associations will have five clubs; the next three, four clubs; the associations ranked from seventh to 15th will each have three clubs; associations ranked from 16th to 26th will have two clubs; and those remaining associations will have one club.

"There is no winner here apart from football itself," Michel Platini, President of European football's governing body UEFA, told a news conference.

"It was utterly unthinkable for us that players might not have the right to play for their national team but of course we could see it was also logical the clubs who provide these players should also share in the profits from the competitions."

The agreement will see world football's ruling body FIFA contribute £20 million for clubs whose players participate in the 2010 World Cup with the sum rising to £35 million for 2014.

UEFA will also make a fixed payment of £32 million for June's Euro 2008 tournament. The 2012 figure is expected to be around £40 million but will be dependent upon total revenue from the event staged in Poland and Ukraine.

The funds provided by the governing bodies will be partly used to provide insurance for players injured during international competitions, a long-standing issue of contention.

The imminent dissolution of G14, due to be confirmed at their next general assembly in Brussels on February 15, is also expected to herald the end of three pending court cases.

"As a sign of their commitment and goodwill, member clubs will take the formal decision to dissolve G14 and to withdraw its claims in court," a G14 spokesman said.

"G14 clubs are fully committed to engaging in this initiative and believe the European Club Association should be the sole independent organisation to represent the clubs."

The G14 has been backing Charleroi against FIFA in a court case centred on the Belgian club's player Abdelmajid Oulmers who was prevented from playing for eight months after getting injured while playing for Morocco in November 2004.

Similar cases brought by Lyon in France and Atletico Madrid in Spain are also expected to be dropped.

"This is a day of reunification for the football family," said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the new ECA.

"The lawsuits will be dropped and it is a sign we are on the right path and the many misunderstandings and legal actions are now a part of the past."

Further concessions made in favour of the clubs include an agreement the second game of 'double-header' international matches will be played on Tuesdays, rather than Wednesdays, allowing players one more day to recover before their next domestic matches.

FIFA also agreed clubs will only have to release players for one friendly a year played outside of their own continent.

UEFA said "whenever possible" it would limit the number of teams taking part in European Championship qualifying groups to six, further cutting the amount of international matches.

[Announcement of agreement]

Source: UEFA / Reuters

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