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FIFA: players' unions attack the Club World Cup

FIFA: players' unions attack the Club World Cup
FIFA President Gianni Infantino before the start of the 69th FIFA Congress in Paris, June 5, 2019.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Alessandra Tarantino/Copyright 2019 The AP


Football players' unions took legal action against FIFA on Thursday over the expansion of the Club World Cup.

The event, which will bring together 32 teams instead of seven, is scheduled for June-July 2025 in the United States , despite concerns expressed by FIFPRO (International Federation of Professional Football Players) about increasing physical demands and mental constraints imposed on the players.

The European branch of FIFPRO said member unions in England and France filed a complaint against FIFA with the Brussels Commercial Court and challenged FIFA's "decisions to unilaterally set the schedule of international matches" .

The English Professional Footballers' Association said the case would "challenge the structure of the football match schedule and uphold players' rights to take protected breaks" .

The Brussels court is asked to refer the case to the European Court of Justice. “Players and their unions have always stressed that the current football calendar is overloaded and unworkable ,” FIFPRO Europe said in a statement.

FIFA revealed details of its expanded Club World Cup in December. FIFPRO quickly opposed these projects which, according to it, demonstrate a “lack of consideration for the mental and physical health of participating players, as well as a disregard for their personal and family lives” .

FIFPRO said unions believe decisions such as the expanded Club World Cup "violate the rights of players and their unions" . FIFA said the tournament's month-long schedule, during the off-season of many major leagues around the world, would ensure adequate rest for players.

This assertion is disputed.

“Once preparation periods and travel are taken into account, the tournament is likely to create up to six weeks of additional work on top of an already busy schedule ,” FIFPRO Europe said.

"The role of FIFPRO Europe and its members is not to favor or oppose one competition over another. However, in the broader context of the global football calendar, the new World Cup of FIFA Clubs is seen by players and unions as representing a tipping point.

FIFA specifies that the international match schedule is published after consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Hosting the Club World Cup in 2025 means top players will face three consecutive years of major competitions during the usual off-season, given that the European Championship and Copa América are taking place this year and that the next World Cup will take place in 2026.

“Since all attempts at dialogue have failed, it is now up to us to ensure that the fundamental rights of players are fully respected by bringing the matter before the European courts and therefore before the ECJ ,” declared David Terrier, president of FIFPRO Europe. “It is not a question of stigmatizing a particular competition, but of denouncing both the underlying problem and the straw that broke the camel's back.”

Despite opposition from FIFPRO, the European Club Association said the Club World Cup was "fantastic news for club football in general" .

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