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FIFA’s international calendar plans rejected by European Leagues

Huddersfield Town v Arsenal – Premier League – John Smith’s Stadium
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

FIFA’s proposals to reshape the international calendar have all been firmly rejected by European Leagues, which includes the Premier League, EFL and SPFL among its members.

A consultation on men’s national team football led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s chief of global football development, is proposing a major international tournament every June, longer but fewer in-season international breaks and mandatory player rest periods.

European Leagues managing director Jacco Swart said the proposals created a “severe shift” in the balance between club and national team football in sporting terms and in economic value.

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He rejected outright any change in frequency of the World Cup or continental finals like the Euros, and said rest periods should be determined at domestic level.

Swart also said there should be “as limited changes as possible” to the in-season international breaks.

Representatives of the leagues expressed their views directly to Wenger in a call on Thursday, while FIFA has also been consulting with national team coaches this week.

The renewed opposition from European Leagues comes in a week where the prospect of biennial World Cups becoming a reality appeared to wane.

It had been expected that member associations would vote on the plans at an extraordinary FIFA Congress before the end of the year. FIFA has instead called a global summit for December 20 where it hopes to present a “consensus” on the calendar, but likely without any vote.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is trying to find consensus over football's future calendar

FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is trying to find consensus over football’s future calendar (Nick Potts/PA)

Reaching a consensus in two months seems ambitious, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino describing himself as a referee in the middle of a “riot” in a press conference on Wednesday and calling on everyone involved to be “calm and rational”.

Infantino admitted “everything is open” in terms of what that consensus position might look like.

The PA news agency understands a meeting between UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, European Club Association chair Nasser Al Khelaifi and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach was held on Friday.

Their organisations have all expressed concern over FIFA’s plans.

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