Alexa

uEuropean clubs seek to cut international fixtures

uEuropean clubs seek to cut international fixtures

Europe's top football clubs urged FIFA on Tuesday to limit the international calendar to six competitive matches each season outside of major tournaments.
The proposal to reduce international fixtures _ and demands on the clubs' players _ to "meaningful" matches was announced after a meeting of about 150 of Europe's best and wealthiest clubs.
The European Club Association wants its members required to release players for national duty only on six specified double-header match slots over each two-year qualification period for a World Cup or European Championship.
"That would be ideal from the clubs' point of view," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
The current FIFA calendar allows national federations to claim players for nine double-headers plus six friendlies _ a total of 24 matches _ ahead of the 2012 European Championship.
Clubs' frustration over how FIFA manages the calendar, which is fixed through 2014, has been at the top of a growing list of complaints with football's world governing body.
ECA board member David Gill said clubs especially want to drop national team friendlies in June and August.
"In an ideal world, we've been talking about six double-dates over the two-year period," the Manchester United chief executive said. "It's a reduction but still gives the right balance to the requirements of the national teams and what the clubs want."
Rummenigge said he had meetings two weeks ago with FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini, who is also a FIFA vice president, about the clubs' needs.
"I received clear signs from both of them that they recognized our requests," said the Bayern Munich chief executive, who has been one of Blatter's biggest critics in recent months. "For both presidents it is not easy to convince their (member association) presidents to follow our requests."
Rummenigge said one option was to reduce qualification groups from six teams to four, as was the case when he played for West Germany in the 1970s and 80s.
"We have to come back to the quality, and not in favor of the quantity. Sometimes less money is more," he said.
Rummenigge said he made peace with Blatter, and apologized for his recent comments in a Swiss business magazine comparing the FIFA leader to toppled Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
"It was not, I would say, very fair to him," said Rummenigge, who has previously called for a democratic "revolution" at FIFA and questioned Blatter's right to lead the scandal-hit governing body.
"I don't want to touch too deep now on all those corruption rumors because I don't have the proof of what is true and not true," he said.
"We understand that FIFA and UEFA are hopefully coming now in the right direction to find in these requests a fair and good balance."
However, Rummenigge repeated his belief that clubs are "the most important stakeholders in football" who paid players' salaries.