European clubs vow to boycott revamped Club World Cup in 2021
Europe’s top soccer clubs have taken a brickbat to Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s plans for an expanded Club World Cup by stating they will boycott a planned pilot tournament in 2021.
The Fifa Council has been meeting in Miami in USA for the last two days to discuss issues including a 24-team Club World Cup in June and July of that year.
It represents a revamp of the existing seven-team annual tournament normally played in December.
The enlarged competition is expected to include eight European teams, but, in a letter sent to Infantino and Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin by Andrea Agnelli (pictured), the chairman of the European Club Association and Italian outfit Juventus, and signed by 15 members of the ECA's board, the clubs have stressed their opposition.
In the letter, seen by various news outlets, the clubs state that they are “firmly against any approval of a revised Club World Cup at this point in time and confirm that no ECA clubs would take part in such a competition.”
The move is not exactly unexpected given that Europe’s Professional Football Strategy Council, which includes representatives of Uefa, the ECA and European Leagues, last month denounced Fifa’s plans for an expanded Club World Cup and new global Nations League as “unacceptable as they stand,” and said they would only be considered as part of the post-2024 landscape.
The letter added: "We wish to restate the position of ECA: (a) ECA is unwilling to consider any new or significantly revised competition prior to a holistic assessment of the IMC [international match calendar] post-2024 being conducted and an agreement as to its underlying principles being reached; and (b) in any event, a Club World Cup in June 2021, as proposed by Fifa, is not acceptable in light of the existing competitions and the IMC, which is fixed until 2024."
The ECA has not commented on the contents of the letter, but told Reuters: “We are following developments around the Fifa Council closely. Any decision impacting our members will be discussed and assessed in detail at our upcoming board meeting to be held on 26th March.”
The implicit European boycott represents a further blow to the ambitions of Infantino who, according to reports this week, has already had to put the plans for the worldwide Nations League on hold.
The Swiss official was this week hoping to receive backing from the Fifa Council for a pilot 24-team Club World Cup that would be rubber-stamped at the Fifa Congress in June.
With regard to the proposed new competitions, European soccer bodies have expressed concerns over a perceived lack of consultation, the impact on the international calendar and the source of a reported $25 billion of outside investment from investors led by Japan’s SoftBank.
A 17-page Fifa report on the future of competitions, seen by AP, avoided specific mention of funding and said only that it wants to “ensure that the generated revenues stay within football and do not go to third parties.”
Fifa has not previously sold off control of its competitions to third parties, but is eager to create a major revenue stream aside from the quadrennial World Cup, given that the existing Club World Cup and Confederations Cup are not regarded as money-spinning events.
According to the report, the expanded Club World Cup is mooted to take place between 17 June and 4 July 4, 2021, in the slot previously reserved for the Confederations Cup, the test event that has taken place in the host nation a year before the World Cup.