European stakeholders refuse to be railroaded into Infantino’s $25bn calendar shake-up

UEFA headquarters

May 17 – Europe’s leading football stakeholders have joined forces to oppose Gianni Infantino’s plans to radically change the game’s global landscape by saying they have “serious reservations about the process” surrounding his proposal to enlarge the Club World Cup to 24 teams and create a biennial global Nations League.

Infantino says he has an offer of $25 billion over 12 years on the table for the two competitions from a group of investors, which the Financial Times has identified as SoftBank from Japan and the governments of China and Saudi Arabia. He wants agreement signed soon to meet a 60-day deadline and hopes to get approval at the FIFA conference in Moscow.

But UEFA’s Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC), which met on the fringes of the Europa League final in Lyon, argued its members had not been properly consulted.

The strategic body, which includes representatives of clubs and leagues and was chaired by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, criticised “the hasty timing and lack of concrete information” and “underlined the need for a clearly defined procedure, which respects existing structures and decision-making bodies and which involves all key stakeholders.”

“Such proposals must be considered as part of a global reflection on the overall international match calendar and cannot be decided upon in isolation,” the statement added, fuelling the likelihood of a showdown with FIFA as tension mounts in the build-up to next month’s Congress.

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