The 22nd of March 2012 marks a historic day for the European Club Association - ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and UEFA President Michel Platini set their signatures under a new Memorandum of Understanding between ECA and UEFA, at the UEFA Congress in Istanbul.
This new agreement paves the way for a fruitful relationship between European clubs and Europe's football governing body, reflecting an improved balance between national team and club football. The new MoU underlines that UEFA clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of national team football.
The signing of the new MoU follows lengthy negotiations between both parties over the last two years. The new MoU supersedes the 2008 MoU and is now in effect until the 30th of May 2018. Discussions centred around four key topics of the new MoU:
- International Match Calendar
- Insurance of Players' Salaries
- Distribution of EURO Benefits
ECA, through its working groups and the executive board, proactively shared initial ideas, elaborated new proposals and offered solutions to all problems encountered in discussions on the four key topics. While complex, the negotiations demonstrated the mutual respect and willingness of both parties to always find an acceptable solution.
To download the full MoU 2012, click here.
INTERNATIONAL MATCH CALENDAR
The International Match Calendar, a key topic of discussions, makes the release of national team players compulsory for clubs on the dates it highlights. The 2014-18 International Match Calendar is based on a concrete proposal put forward by ECA, and the efforts of a dedicated working group comprising representatives from ECA, EPFL, FIFPro, and UEFA. The working group's recommendation, acknowledged by FIFA, offers a more balanced system of double-headers with no single friendly matches that is beneficial for both clubs and national associations.
Period & Structure
The new calendar comes into force after the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. It lasts until the 31st of May 2018 for four consecutive seasons: 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, and 2017/18. The calendar is built on 2-year cycles leading up to the UEFA EURO and the FIFA World Cup (2014-16, 2016-18), comprising 9 double-headers for each. Double-headers are defined as periods of 9 days, starting on a Monday morning and ending on a Tuesday night the following week, reserved to national teams' activities. Each double-header includes a preparation period and a maximum of two matches played by each national team, irrespective of whether these matches are qualifiers or friendlies. Importantly, the new calendar no longer includes single, stand-alone friendly matches.
The double-headers are spread over each season as follows:
- Year 1 (2014/15): September/October/November/March/June
- Year 2 (2015/16): September/October/November/March
- Year 3 (2016/17): September/October/November/March/June
- Year 4 (2017/18): September/October/November/March
It is to be noted, subject to a global agreement with FIFA, one additional double-header is foreseen in early June for the year of the UEFA EURO tournament (i.e. 2016). This double-header can be used for qualification games by non-European associations.
A maximum of two National Team matches can be played per team per release period (double-header). These matches can be staged on any day from the Wednesday within the release period, provided that a minimum of two full days are left between matches of the same team to allow for sufficient regeneration of the players (i.e. match days on Thursday & Sunday). The players are travel to their national teams by Monday morning at the latest, and travel back to their clubs the following Wednesday morning at the latest.
In principle, the two matches during the same release period should be played on the territory of the same confederation. If one of the two matches is a friendly match they can be played in two different confederations, providing a certain distance between the two venues is respected (i.e. not more than five flight hours and two time zones).
The exact dates of the final tournaments of FIFA and the confederations, on a case-by-case basis, are to be added to the International Match Calendar. In future, these tournaments generally are to be played between early June and mid-July (in some cases the African and Asian Confederations may stage final tournaments in January/February). The release of players for the final tournaments is compulsory from the Monday of the preceding week prior to the week in which the final tournament starts (i.e. if the start is foreseen on a Friday the release period starts on the Monday of the preceding week, twelve days beforehand). The players are released back to their clubs after the last match of their respective national team in the final tournament.
In general terms, each player has a maximum of one A-National Team final tournament per year (exceptions to be considered for the FIFA Confederations Cup).
INSURANCE FOR PLAYERS' SALARIES
For years, clubs have been seeking an insurance policy that covers injury risk to national team players. ECA Members are agreed that players, who are exclusively trained and paid for by the clubs, need to be insured during national team matches by the event organisers. If a player suffers bodily injuries caused by an accident during the release period of national team matches, the player can be totally disabled from participating in his club's training and matches; however, the club has an obligation to pay the player's salary based on the respective employment contract. Compensation paid to the club therefore seems an obvious and fair outcome in respect to the club's losses (payment of the player's salary) during the period the player is unable to perform his duty.
The so-called 'Clubs Protection Program' is the result of long negotiations and close cooperation between UEFA and ECA to agree the definition of the policy framework and its key conditions. The parameters requested by the European clubs have been taken into account and the introduction of such an insurance policy marks a new milestone in the relationship between clubs and national associations. The Program is a major innovation aimed towards better dialogue and cooperation for the release of players, and one that benefits the entire football community.
The Clubs Protection Program came into effect, at UEFA's expense, in time for the start of the UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland/Ukraine (covering the injury risk of players released by European clubs only). Following the approval by the FIFA Congress in Budapest in May 2012, the Club Protection Program is now, at FIFA's expense, under the same conditions worldwide from 1st of September 2012. It covers all clubs that release players for A-national team matches listed on the International Match Calendar, including a FIFA commitment to insure the football tournament of the Olympic Games.
The Club Protection Program provides compensation for clubs in the event that national A-team players participating for their national association suffer a temporary total disablement (TTD) as a result of bodily injuries caused by an accident. It does not however provide any compensation for sickness; cover permanent total disablement or death, or any costs of medical treatment.
All matches between two national A-teams played on the dates of the FIFA International Match Calendar, or on dates covered by the respective release period for such matches, are covered. It is to be highlighted that the players are protected during the whole release period whilst under the control of the national association, including: whenever they are playing, practicing, training, involved in training matches, travelling, or during any time they are absent.
The Program protects all players during the release period of A-national team matches who are under an employment contract with a club, where an obligation to release the players exists. All professional players who are employed by clubs affiliated to a FIFA national association are protected. It is to be noted that a 'professional player' is a player who has a contract in writing and signed with a club, and is paid more for his footballing activity than the expenses he incurs for the same activity. All other players are to be considered 'amateurs' and therefore not covered under the Program.
The Program compensates clubs up to a maximum of ¤7.5m per player per accident. The maximum of ¤7.5m is calculated at a daily 'pro rata' compensation which is payable for a maximum of 365 days after the first 28 days of disablement (initial 28 days not covered). The compensation payable is based on the fixed salary (including mandatory social security charges) that the club pays directly to the player. Compensation does not include variable amounts, one-off payments, payments not made on a regular basis, or any bonuses, including performance bonuses.
Players with injuries that already exist (i.e. injuries for which a player is receiving specific medical treatment when joining the A-national team for duty) are not insured for this part of the body. However, an exception to the rule exists for the Confederations' final tournaments: should an injured player be called up for a final tournament, the injury is covered if the national team doctor and the club doctor both agree in writing and prove through medical documentation that the player has finished his treatment and is able to resume his activity.
DISTRIBUTION OF EURO BENEFITS
As stipulated in the 2008 MoU between ECA and UEFA, the UEFA Executive Committee agreed to set aside provisions of ¤43.5m for UEFA EURO 2008 in Switzerland/Austria, and ¤55m for UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland/Ukraine. This is in recognition of the important contribution clubs make to the success of the UEFA EURO tournaments. The payments following UEFA EURO 2008 have been distributed via the Member Associations to the clubs of the 368 players who participated in the final competition. In total, 180 different clubs received a share of the benefits.
In order to further emphasise the significant contribution of clubs to the success of the UEFA EURO tournaments, ECA and UEFA have agreed under the terms of the 2012 MoU, that the clubs receive an increased amount of ¤100m from the UEFA EURO 2012 revenues (from the proposed amount of ¤55m). This amount is set to increase again for the UEFA EURO 2016 in France, to a total of ¤150m.
In view of the increased amount, ECA and UEFA have elaborated a new distribution mechanism. An agreement, between both parties, is based on a proposal put forward by the ECA Executive Board. The main objective is to have a fair and balanced system, ensure increased benefit for all clubs compared to previous tournaments, and guarantee more clubs are entitled to receive a share of the benefits. The total amount (¤100m) has been split between the final tournament (60%) and the qualification phase (40%) in order to allow for a more precise differentiation in the way the money is distributed.
For the qualification phase (two prior seasons), the concept is to reward the actual release of the players. Each club that released a player to the national team for a qualification match receives a fixed amount per player per game. This applies to all 18 players who appeared on the match sheet of a UEFA EURO 2012 qualification match (or friendly match in the case of Polish and Ukrainian players), no matter if their national team qualified for the UEFA EURO 2012 or not.
For the final tournament, the reserved amount is broken down into a fixed amount per player per day. However, this amount varies in compliance with the rationale of the FIFA training compensation categorisation (per country) in order to better reflect the different levels of player remuneration. As a result, the exact amount per player per day depends on the origin of the club with which the player is registered.
Qualification Phase (¤40m)
Final Tournament (¤60m)
Amount per player per match*
Amount per player per day**
NA with 12 matches
NA with 10 matches
NA with 8 matches
* Amount depends on number of matches played, including play-offs.
** Starting 14 days prior to the first match of the respective national team until the day after the last match of the team at the UEFA EURO 2012?.
Cat.1: ENG, ESP, FRA, GER, ITA, NED
Cat.2: BEL, DEN, GRE, POR, RUS, SCO, SUI, SWE, TUR, UKR
Cat.3: CRO, CZE, ISR, POL, ROM
Due to the new distribution mechanism, around 580 clubs have benefited and received a share from the EURO 2012 revenues (see Appendix for full list of clubs): a substantial increase of nearly 400 clubs when compared to the 181 clubs who received a share in 2008. This new concept is to set the framework for the UEFA EURO 2016 in France, which in accordance with the new MoU estimates ¤150m available for club distribution.
Under the new MoU, UEFA grants ECA a direct say in the decision-making process through the Club Competitions Committee and the Professional Football Strategy Council. ECA's inclusion in UEFA's decision-making process is of high importance when it comes to UEFA decisions that directly affect club football and the day-to-day business of clubs. ECA guarantee that the clubs' voices are heard and no decision affecting club football is taken without the consent of the clubs.
Club Competitions Committee (CCC)
The Club Competitions Committee (CCC) is tasked with canvasing views on the current UEFA Club Competitions in order to make recommendations on possible modifications to the existing UEFA Club Competitions, and their respective regulations.
Under the new MoU, the CCC is to be formed exclusively from club representatives (except for the chairman and deputy chairman who are members of the UEFA Executive Committee), with 50% appointed by ECA and UEFA respectively. It is agreed that any proposed change to the current format of UEFA Club Competitions or any regulation to club competitions is to be submitted to, and reviewed by, the CCC. The CCC is to present its conclusions/findings/position to the UEFA Executive Committee for a final decision.
In the case of any disagreement, the UEFA Executive Committee is to refer the issue back to the CCC for further consideration, and request a new proposal. In case of a 'dead-lock situation', the ECA Chairman and the UEFA President are to enter discussions to find a mutually acceptable, or if no agreement can be reached to continue with the status quo.
Additionally, two ECA Executive Board Members are invited to make direct representations to the UEFA Executive Committee on club matters and attend the respective meetings regarding such matters (voting rights excluded).
Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC)
The Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC) discusses issues of strategic importance for professional football in Europe. The PFSC advises the UEFA Executive Committee on these matters through its elected representatives from the four main stakeholder groups involved in European professional football: the clubs (ECA), the leagues (EPFL), the players (FIFPro Europe), and UEFA.
As in the 2008 MoU, ECA is to appoint four members to the PFSC. In principle, the PFSC meetings are scheduled for the eve of the meetings of the UEFA Executive Committee. This allows the PFSC to discuss the club-related topics on the agenda of the UEFA Executive Committee, clarifying any points not addressed by the CCC.
ECA's participation in both the CCC and PFSC is of high strategic importance and is essential to the future development of European club football. In particular, the introduction of new procedures for the CCC underlines the clubs' participation in UEFA's decision-making process. This demonstrates a modern and democratic governance approach.