09 May 2024

FIFA threatened with legal action over scheduling of next Club World Cup

09 May 2024

FIFA has been threatened with legal action by world leagues and player unions if it does not reschedule the 2025 Club World Cup.

A letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, seen by the PA news agency, says the sport’s schedule is now “beyond saturation”.

It says calendar changes such as the addition of the new 32-team Club World Cup – currently scheduled to take place in June and July 2025 – have created “economic harm” to domestic leagues and have pushed players “beyond their limits”.

It calls on FIFA Council to reschedule the Club World Cup and to reopen discussions on the international calendar for the period up to 2030.

“Should FIFA refuse to formally commit to resolving the issues, as set out above, at its upcoming council, we shall be compelled to advise our members on the options available to them, both individually and collectively, to proactively safeguard their interests,” the letter states.

“These options include legal action against FIFA, on which we have now commissioned external expert advice.”

The letter has been sent by the World Leagues Association and world players’ union FIFPRO, which respectively count the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association among their members.

The Club World Cup is due to be played between June 15 and July 13.

The leagues and unions accused FIFA of “continually and consistently making unilateral decisions that benefit its own competitions and commercial interests, while negatively affecting national leagues and players”.

It added: “Over a significant period, FIFA has ignored repeated attempts by leagues and unions to engage on this issue.

“Leagues and players cannot simply be expected to ‘adapt’ to FIFA’s decisions, which are driven by FIFA’s business strategy. We have reached the point where this situation must immediately be addressed both from a procedural and substantive perspective.

“The World Leagues Association and FIFPRO, as social partners at a global level, stress that, had FIFA followed a transparent, objective, and non-discriminatory process in adopting its calendar decisions, the current situation and subsequent requests would not have arisen.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said last month: “It is getting to a tipping point. The feedback we have from players is that there is too much football being played and there is constant expansion.

“The Premier League hasn’t changed shape. What has changed over the last few decades is the march of international and regional football competitions.

“It stands to reason if you overload the calendar and the players, at some point, something has to give.”

FIFA has not yet issued any comment on the letter, but sources close to the governing body say the tournament dates allow sufficient time between the final and the season start dates for many domestic leagues. They also point out that players will be afforded a minimum three-day break between matches.

FIFA further argues the impact to the club fixture calendar from the Club World Cup and Intercontinental Cup is minimal.

Crucially, the Club World Cup also has the firm backing of the European Club Association (ECA), which has formed a joint venture with FIFA over the sale of the competition’s commercial rights.

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