Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Clubs want Fifa scheduling review

Steven Gerrard scores against Hungary
A Steven Gerrard-inspired England beat Hungary 2-1 in August's friendly

Europe's top clubs have called on Fifa to re-assess its scheduling of international friendlies.

The European Clubs' Association (ECA), which represents 200 of the continent's leading clubs, is demanding talks with the world governing body.

In August, club managers were angered at losing players for a programme of friendlies as they prepared for the beginning of the new domestic season.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge branded the August games "a nonsense".

Rummenigge said: "We will intervene more and more in the international match calendar.

"Some countries are already playing their third series of internationals since the World Cup. We need deep discussions to find a solution.


"Federations like Fifa need to recognise that the players are our employees and we have to be involved in these kinds of discussions.

"We have to make Fifa understand that certain things don't make sense. We have to discuss this with [Fifa president] Mr Sepp Blatter and his colleagues in order to do something for the good of football.

"It is very dangerous to come back from a long tournament with only three weeks of holidays and with less than one week of preparation and then play a friendly for the national team. That kind of date has to be given up."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was particularly vocal in his condemnation of the August friendly, which saw a large number of his players depart for international duty three days before the start of the Premier League season.

At the time, a Football Association spokesman said the match dates were set by Fifa.

"If we weren't to have a friendly in August with two qualifiers ahead, we would be criticised - especially as there may well be some new faces in the squad," English football's governing body added.

In addition to looking at the timing of international friendlies, the ECA is also keen for Fifa and its European counterpart Uefa to start paying insurance premiums to cover players who get injured while on international duty.

The ECA is the independent body directly representing football clubs at European level. It replaced the influential G14 Group and the European Club Forum, both of which were dissolved at the beginning of 2008.

Members are drawn from every one of the 53 national associations within Uefa, right across Europe, and are steered by a fifteen-member Executive Board, which includes Chelsea non-executive director Peter Kenyon and his Manchester United chief executive David Gill.

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