Following FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s announcement that he seeks to expand the Club World Cup from 7 to 24 teams, the European Club Association came out almost immediately in letting him know that they weren’t all in with his plans. In fact, they weren’t in at all.
The ECA sent a letter, signed by all 15 board members including Bayern Munich’s Michael Gerlinger, to Infantino stating that no European club would take part in the event. While the ECA doesn’t have the pull with FIFA that they do with UEFA, it’s safe to say that if the European clubs aren’t going to be involved with the Club World Cup, it’s simply not going to happen.
Of course, the ECA’s biggest complaint revolves around the financial aspect of the plan. Who is getting how much money and when? (We previously wrote about Infantino’s behind-the-scenes work to try and sell a bunch of tournaments to a consortium for $25 billion.)
The ECA is concerned about FIFA’s refusal to grant the taskforce a review of the economic models for these competition.
Then, it was obviously time for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to insert himself into the discussion. The former chairman of the ECA acknowledged that, yes, there is a problem with the current version of the Club World Cup.
The current Club World Cup every year in December is a nonsense competition. Everyone is in agreement about that, including the ECA. I understand FIFA’s intention that this competition should now be reformed.
Nobody thinks having the tournament in the middle of December is good idea, and by moving the competition to once every four years in place of the non-defunct Confederations Cup, it could make the event more appealing to the bigger clubs.
Since the majority of participants are European clubs, a consensus has to be reached between FIFA and UEFA. Only then will it be possible to prevent conflicts.
Rummenigge is actually sneakily smart with his words here. He states that UEFA and FIFA need to hash out any issues and come to a consensus on what’s best for the clubs. Of course, the ECA has near-complete sway with UEFA, so the ECA will get what it wants out of this.
I think that Gianni Infantino has neglected to coordinate with the ECA and in particular with Andrea Agnelli as the president of the ECA prior to the decision. That alone already provokes a defensive attitude in public. I regret and am displeased by the fact that there is no positive thread of discussion regarding this matter between FIFA, UEFA, and the ECA. This must be corrected.
One of Rummenigge’s biggest issues with the expanded Club World Cup certainly appears to be completely about “respect”. He doesn’t feel that FIFA is respecting the ECA by discussing this proposal before coming before the ECA for approval.
Solidarity payments are indispensable and important. I have heard, however, that these planned disbursements are supposed to be made to the national federations. I do not consider that a given. Solidarity payments have to be paid to the leagues and their clubs; that’s self-evident, after all. Ultimately, it is a competition that is played by clubs.
Of course, the biggest issue that Rummenigge (and all of the ECA) has with with the expanded Club World Cup, revolves completely around the issue of money. The proposal includes a large chunk of the revenue going to the national federations; however Rummenigge points out that the revenue should go to the national leagues and their clubs. The clubs are the ones playing in the event, not national teams.
Right or wrong, it’s always all about the money.