The European Club Association’s (ECA) Executive Board met in Warsaw, Poland on 5-6 June to address a number of important topics relating to the future of the club game.
The future of European club football
Board members acknowledged that a number of wide-ranging reforms impacting the club game are currently being considered. These will have to be elaborated in an open, transparent and detailed manner to ensure optimum outcomes for the long-term benefit of the game.
International Match Calendar (IMC)
The Board agreed that a detailed assessment of the existing IMC was required prior to presenting a new model post-2024. The current model needs modernising with special focus required around reviewing the total number of games, release periods, confederation tournaments (dates and frequency), and a re-balancing between European and domestic club competitions. The aim must be to develop a new model which reduces the current burden on players and adapts to the new realities of the club game.
In relation to the future of FIFA Competitions, such as the Global Nations League and Club World Cup, the Board expects discussions to be undertaken in an open and transparent manner using formal channels of engagement between ECA and FIFA.
- Release periods
Strong dissatisfaction was expressed towards the recent violation by a number of National Associations of FIFA rules relating to the release of players which saw a number of them fail to respect the mandatory rest period for the week 21- 27 May. This constitutes abusive practice on the part of National Associations, placing players under considerable pressure Any further violations of this kind will force ECA to consider further action for the protection of its member Clubs.
UEFA Club Competitions
The Board was updated on the recent work undertaken by the UEFA Club Competition Working Group which aims at developing a new model for the UEL 2021-24 cycle. Extensive and detailed discussions remain on-going between ECA and UEFA with a final agreement expected in September. The model that emerges for the UEFA Club Competitions post-2024 should aim to strengthen the value of the competitions, while increasing the overall number of participating clubs and a greater certainty of matches for all.
The Board acknowledged the positive direction FIFA is taking towards the development of the Women’s game and welcomed the consultation that is being undertaken between ECA and FIFA in this respect. Further and regular engagement will continue in the months ahead during which ECA will provide its input and possible concerns. In respect to the UEFA Women’s Champions League, discussions will begin shortly with UEFA with the aim of re-vamping the current format of the Competition.
Platform for Executive Consultation (PEC)
These matters will be addressed in detail at the upcoming round of PEC (Platform for Executive Consultation) meetings to be held throughout the month of June. The PEC meetings were established in 2017, to ensure regular contact and discussion between the Executive Board and ECA members on all matters of importance impacting the club game.
Commenting at the conclusion of the two-day meeting, ECA Chairman Andrea Agnelli stated:
“Football continues to develop at a fast pace. Despite the challenges that this entails, we must take the required time and undertake detailed analysis to ensure that we reach decisions leading to positive outcomes for the future development of the game. As clubs, we are the sole stakeholder taking entrepreneurial risks. As such, it is essential that ECA is at the heart and fully involved in shaping the decisions which will determine the game’s future. These two days in Warsaw have allowed us to discuss in detail all the key challenges and issues the club game faces and develop a coherent and united long-term ECA position.”