By Andrew Warshaw
May 3 – The body representing Europe’s major leagues has issued its sternest warning yet over Gianni Infantino’s controversial plans to change the face of global football as fresh details emerged about the scale of his proposals.
Following a board meeting in St Petersburg, the European Leagues, until recently known as the EPFL, stressed their total opposition to the project which is gathering pace but has not yet secured the backing of UEFA and key European stakeholders.
Infantino wants to introduce two brand new competitions, a revamped Club World Cup and a new FIFA Nations League which is anticipated will jointly provide FIFA with significant additional funding and allow Infantino to fulfil his election pledge of handing FIFA federations vastly more development money than they had before he took over.
But European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson, whose organisation now has a place at UEFA’s top table, likened the plans to the dark days of FIFA’s past and called for a united front in Europe against Infantino’s ambitious game-changing project.
“This process reminds me of the way the ‘old FIFA’ acted which I thought we had left behind,” Olsson fumed.
“What we have experienced is a clear lack of consultation and transparency, and an intentional manipulation of the decision making structure by FIFA in presenting these proposals. To present a long-term 12-year plan with lots of uncertainty and a lack of information sounds, to me, like a ‘can of worms’.”
Declaring it is not prepared to budge in terms of its own domestic competitions, Olsson’s group is concerned with the potential distribution of additional financial resources to a small group of big clubs “which could further increase the financial and sporting gap between clubs in Europe and further destroy competitive balance.”
According to Reuters, Infantino, who has already overseen the expansion of the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams starting in 2026, wants the global Nations League to feature a ‘Final 8’ every two years from 2021.
Although specific clubs are understood to have been approached about the deal, Infantino is reported to have overlooked representative bodies such as the European Club Association and Olsson’s grouping – infuriating the relevant stakeholders.
“The European Leagues call on the World League Forum and all European football stakeholders, in particular UEFA, ECA and FIFPro, to join forces and take a firm position on occasion of the upcoming meeting of the Professional Football Strategy Council on the 16th of May so to firmly oppose and together stop this unilateral initiative from FIFA and the process which lacks of transparency and a proper consultation with the stakeholders,” the statement added.
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