September 23 – The umbrella organisation for scores of European clubs has downplayed fears that they will be hit hard by the World Cup being played in the middle of their regular season.
Ever since FIFA announced that the Qatar tournament would exceptionally be held in November and December because of the fierce summer Gulf heat, concerns have been raised about the compressed calendar, players getting injured in mid-season and how those left behind might react when they are used to playing domestic matches in the same period.
The European Club Association was initially highly sceptical about the World Cup being staged halfway through their season but ECA board member and Ajax chief Edwin van der Sar said the idea has now been generally accepted.
“We have to adjust and we need to adjust,” van der Sar told a short press conference following the ECA general assembly in Istanbul. “Of course it’s not ideal (but) players want to play in the World Cup.”
“As for those left behind during the tournament, it isn’t easy but the performance guys inside clubs know what to do.”
The ECA also added its voice to that of UEFA in dismissing any suggestion of taking Champions League games outside Europe.
Media reports have emerged suggesting UEFA was exploring options to stage some encounters in neutral territory, such as the US, China and the Middle East.
Any such explorations could only take place by involving the ECA but its CEO Charlie Marshall said there was no substance whatsoever to the reports.
“We’ve seen the reports and we are as baffled as other stakeholders,” said Marshall.
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