Sport Soccer

Thursday 14 December 2017

International friendlies to be cutback as top clubs and UEFA do deal

THE number of international friendly matches played every year is likely to be slashed after European clubs and UEFA reached an agreement on proposals to change the international calendar.

The deal, which has still to be agreed with FIFA, would see an average of nine international matches played a year rather than 12.

The agreement would see nine double-headers over a two-year period with no one-off friendlies such as England's match against Holland tomorrow night.

The compromise deal was announced at the European Clubs' Association (ECA) general assembly in Warsaw today - the clubs last year demanded the number of internationals be halved to six a year.

UEFA also agreed to take out insurance to cover the wages of all players injured on international duty, starting at Euro 2012, and to increase the amount of money paid to clubs for their players taking part in the tournament. The amount was 55million euros for the last tournament and the new figure - a "substantial increase" according to the ECA - will be announced next month.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed however that the clubs' boycott on talks with FIFA still stands.

Rummenigge said: "The agreement with UEFA is a major breakthrough for European club football. With this agreement, UEFA clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of national team football.

"The negotiations have not always proved easy, but were always conducted in a fair and respectful manner. I sincerely thank UEFA, in particular UEFA president Michel Platini, on behalf of all European clubs and look forward to our continued cooperation. This is once more a proof that in the European football family solutions can be found in a co-operative and fair way."

He added: "While an agreement has been reached with UEFA, the situation remains unsatisfactory in relation to FIFA. Unfortunately, discussions with the FIFA president have failed to lead to a satisfactory outcome which takes account of the clubs' demands."

The agreement on the proposals of the international calendar would see the unpopular friendly date in August ditched.

An ECA statement added that in future the clubs will have a 'referral right', meaning they have to give their consent to all decisions affecting European club football.

The clubs have however been unable to persuade UEFA to back them in their opposition to the timing of the African Nations Cup in January and February. The agreement merely states that the tournament "shall start as soon as possible in January".

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