European countries urge end to August friendlies

LONDON - Hugely unpopular August friendlies could be dropped from the international calendar following a series of meetings of UEFA's 53 member nations in Limassol, Cyprus which ended on Friday.

A two-day strategic planning meeting preceded a UEFA Executive Committee meeting with UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino revealing what proposals UEFA and the other five continental confederations will make to world governing body FIFA about future internationals.

Infantino said on the UEFA website: "Support was given for a calendar which is made up of double-headers - two matches - rather than single friendlies, in particular the single friendlies in August, which is an issue for many stakeholders.

"Now the process of consultation is going on, the international match calendar being a FIFA issue."

UEFA President Michel Platini, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, added: "It is a priority for everyone. We can reflect on what is best and make a proposal to FIFA."

Many international and major club managers have argued for years for FIFA to drop August internationals, which usually take place just before the start of the domestic league seasons.

Team coaches, including England's Fabio Capello and France's Laurent Blanc, have been dismissive of the games as have club managers whose plans for the new season are disrupted with players away on international duty during their pre-season build-ups.

The current international calendar ends in 2014 with the new one in place from 2015-18 but FIFA could remove the August dates from the schedule before it expires in 2014.

MATCH-FIXING ADDRESSED

UEFA also addressed the never-ending threat of match-fixing with Platini and Infantino wanting better direct contact between the sport and state authorities in fighting the problem.

UEFA are appointing Integrity Officers across Europe who will work together with the police and state authorities in their specific countries.

"We have installed a betting fraud detection system which shows us if there are strange movements with regard to betting," said Infantino of the system whereby some 30,000 matches are being monitored a season, including all those in UEFA competitions and in first and second divisions across Europe.

"When you have this information, what do you do? You go to the police and the prosecutors and you ask them to open investigations because they have the tools to do so.

"It is absolutely crucial that the state authorities are co-operating with the sports authorities.

"The sports authorities can take disciplinary sanctions - we do not put anyone in jail or give criminal penalties - but we can sanction from a disciplinary point of view when we receive the information from the different police and state authorities."