The ECA Executive Committee (ExCo) today held its first meeting of 2024.
Under the mandate of the ECA Board, the role of the ExCo is to meet regularly to guide, advise and inform the Board on key matters relating to the organisation’s strategic development and execution.
The ExCo meeting in Doha, Qatar was set against the backdrop of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 - where 113 European club players are representing their national teams - nearly 20% of the total number of players in the tournament.
The rapid growth of ECA, representing clubs of all shapes and sizes across Europe, and its partnerships with UEFA and FIFA, helping to benefit clubs not only from Europe but globally, was reflected by the special guests attending the opening of the meeting. These included AFC President, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, FIFA Secretary General ad interim Mattias Grafström, and European Leagues President, Pedro Proença – aligning with ECA’s vision to strengthen positive relations and partnerships with all legitimate stakeholders in football.
After the welcome speeches, the ExCo was given an update by the ECA Chairman on the continued rapid growth of ECA which now counts 486 members, an increase of 83% since start of the 2023/24 season, with 36 new members joining since the last ExCo in December 2023 in Copenhagen.
Commenting after the meeting ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, said: “These gatherings of the ECA’s senior leadership are so important as the organisation continues to grow at a rapid pace and we approach 500 clubs. ECA’s remit now runs much further than just Europe as our MoU with FIFA demonstrates by benefitting clubs globally via mechanisms such as the club benefits programme (distributing revenues from the FIFA Men’s World Cup to all clubs releasing players).
“It is vitally important for football that we continue to build positive relations and partnerships with all stakeholders in the interests of all - based on win-win partnerships.”
Reflecting on the ECJ judgment of 21 December 2023, the Exco reaffirmed its strong belief that football is a social contract and not a legal one - a belief that is validated by all the progressive reform work that ECA is doing within its own membership base and with legitimate stakeholders of football to develop the game positively and progressively based on sporting merit, inclusiveness, open competition, and solidarity.
Moving to UEFA matters, the ExCo endorsed the final steps towards completing the full sporting, commercial and regulatory frameworks for the UEFA Club Competitions post 2024 together with UEFA.
On FIFA matters, members were updated on the key concepts of the FIFA Women’s International Match Calendar from 2026 onwards, again with work between ECA, FIFA and other relevant stakeholders to continue in the coming months.
The ExCo was further appraised of the work being carried out by two of the eight major ECA Workstreams that form the key pillars of the organisation’s strategic delivery, namely Football and Sustainability.
The Football Workstream, led by ECA Vice Chair Aki Riihilahti, presented a series of topics that will form part of an ECA Strategic Football Review. This review will look into all aspects of the game including medical and high-performance research, fan experience and engagement, and laws of the game and the use of technology.
Sustainability and social responsibility is also becoming an increasingly important topic for ECA, being a part of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability Regulations and, at EU-level, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
Led by ECA Board Member Niclas Carlnén, the ExCo reviewed the work of the Sustainability Workstream who are organising a series of webinars for clubs and individuals, while finalising the first-ever ECA Sustainability Strategy set for completion towards the end of the season.
Together with UEFA, ECA is conducting a series of joint webinars on the UEFA sustainability licensing requirements and to date 662 participants from clubs and other football relevant organisations (Leagues, National Federations etc.) have attended the first three webinars, with a further 225 registered for the fourth that will take the total to nearly 900 individuals reached. This makes this one of the most successful-ever series of ECA workshops, demonstrating both the recent strong growth in the number of ECA clubs and the high levels of interest and engagement in this topic.
The ExCo discussed the inauguration of the ECA Foundation Board, with work to continue on finalising this, so ECA can help provide support to projects targeting positive social, environmental and humanitarian impact.
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Robert Faulkner, ECA Director of Communications and Marketing