Fifa has agreed to pay clubs an extra $146m (€135m) to release their players for the men’s World Cup and give them a greater say in the game’s calendar. The moves are part of a new deal that indicates a significant thawing of relations between the sport’s governing body and Europe’s top teams.
Relations have been frosty since the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, offered his tacit support for the failed European Super League project and advocated for a World Cup every two years. Infantino signed a new memorandum of understanding on Monday with the European Clubs Association in Budapest.
Fifa has agreed to significantly increase its compensation package to clubs to release players for the World Cup, from $209m for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to $355m in 2026 and 2030. Fifa will also explore a joint venture with clubs around the 2025 Club World Cup, not dissimilar to the relationship the ECA has with Uefa over the Champions League. Such a deal could lead to the top clubs reap big financial rewards and make a European Super League less likely.
“This is a significant day for the future of football and its long-term stability,” Infantino said. “We are very happy to renew and strengthen our cooperation agreement with ECA, an important stakeholder representing clubs from all over Europe.
“To have the new international match calendar endorsed by ECA provides the necessary balance between club and national team football. We have exciting projects ahead, including the new Fifa Club World Cup in 2025 and the new Fifa Women’s Club World Cup. A close collaboration with clubs in Europe, and the rest of the world, will be essential for the success of those events.”
That assessment was backed by Nasser al-Khelaifi, the ECA chairman and Paris Saint‑Germain president, who said: “After long and hard negotiations, we have achieved what many thought was impossible a few months ago. The new agreement will benefit hundreds of clubs around the world, not just the ECA, with more revenue and more player protection. As I always say, if we work together and expand our alliances, everyone benefits..
“The proposed joint venture we will discuss with Fifa for the commercialisation of the Club World Cup will also open up whole new revenue streams for global club competitions. Clubs will also work much more closely with Fifa and confederations on the international match calendar.
“We, as clubs, are very proud to have our players play for their national teams, and now we have a collaboration charter to negotiate the process and protocol for those releases, while our players will continue to be insured against injury.”
Khelaifi also said that the ECA would be growing from about 240 to more than 330 full members, with more smaller clubs involved. “The major governance and membership reforms will make the ECA more democratic, more representative and more diverse,” he said. — Guardian