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European clubs congratulate new FIFA president Infantino, oppose World Cup expansion

The European Club Association (ECA) has congratulated Gianni Infantino on winning the FIFA presidential election, but reiterated its opposition to the expansion of the World Cup.

Infantino was elected after securing 115 votes in the second round of Friday's ballot in Zurich, unexpectedly edging Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa by 88 votes to 85 in the first round.

And the ECA, which represents more than 200 clubs, is looking forward to working with Sepp Blatter's successor, although its World Cup stance is at odds with that of the new president, who is committed to increasing the number of countries at the tournament from 32 to 40.

"The European Club Association congratulates Gianni Infantino on his election as FIFA president," read a statement. 

"ECA knows Gianni Infantino well through his previous role as UEFA general secretary and takes the opportunity to thank him once again for the constructive and reform-oriented cooperation in recent years.

"We also expect to cooperate with him as FIFA president in a transparent, democratic and fruitful manner for the benefit of football. As an important football stakeholder, ECA has the ambition of shaping the future of football together with FIFA through direct inclusion in the decision-making process on all issues affecting the professional game. 

"In this context, ECA reiterates its opposition to an expansion of the FIFA World Cup from 32 to 40 teams."

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented: "Everyone, the clubs, as well as the national and international associations, bears responsibility for the players.

"We have reached a point where we cannot further burden the players, but need to relieve them. FIFA must fulfil this responsibility for the health of the players."