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European clubs call for talks with FIFA amid plans for biennial World Cup

The European Club Association has said it is willing to “engage” with FIFA over potential changes to the international calendar but has hit out at world football’s governing body for its attempts to introduce a biennial World Cup.

The ECA, which has nearly 250 members from across Europe with Paris Saint-Germain’s Nasser al-Khelaifi its chairman, complained in a statement released on Friday that there had been “a lack of genuine (or indeed any) consultation” from FIFA about its proposals for a more regular World Cup.

It said it believes changes are needed to the calendar to make it “modernised and simpler”, with fewer windows in which players have to be released by clubs for international duty, “better player protection and health and a balanced approach to club and international football”.

It said it was available “to engage with FIFA to agree what those changes should be”.

However, it is not in favour of a World Cup every two years. “There is no room” in the current calendar said Michael Gerlinger, a vice-chairman of the ECA and on its legal advisory panel, earlier this month.

The ECA statement said FIFA’s project would have “a direct and destructive impact on the club game” and “would put players’ health and well-being at risk”. 

“They would dilute the value and meaning of club and country competitions” and “diminish and conflict with women’s and youth football”.

The organisation said FIFA was in “direct and unilateral breach of certain obligations”, referring to an agreement, the so-called memorandum of understanding, that is currently in place with the ECA until 2024 and includes “joint approval” on the international calendar.

FIFA said earlier this week that there was “a broad consensus within the game that the international match calendar should be reformed and improved”.

It has invited football’s national federations to an online summit on September 30 to discuss the calendar as it pushes to hold the World Cup every two years instead of four.

FIFA’s plan has also come under attack from UEFA, with European football’s governing body saying it had “serious concerns” and that the World Cup would lose “legitimacy” by being held more often.

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