European and World Leagues bodies slam FIFA for lack of consultation on match calendar

March 16 – The umbrella body representing all of Europe’s major leagues has slammed FIFA for acting “unilaterally” in introducing a new 32-team Club World Cup and playing 104 matches – 40 more than in the past and including a new round-of-32 stage – when the World Cup is expanded to 48 nations in 2026.

Ahead of today’s annual Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, the FIFA Council confirmed the new-look Club World Cup will comprise 32 teams every four years from June 2025, and rubber-stamped how the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico will look.

But the European Leagues body, which represents more than 1,000 clubs in 37 professional leagues, said it was “concerned” about the announcements.

“All these decisions were taken by FIFA in a unilateral way and without any consultation process with many of the football stakeholders and leagues,” said a statement, adding tellingly: “Unfortunately, this became a habit in recent years.”

The body added that they are cooperating with the World Leagues Forum to decide on any further steps that might be taken.

The World Leagues Forum issued a statement similarly critical of FIFA’s lack of consulation or respect for their league members.

“Despite multiple requests, FIFA did not consult with the World Leagues Forum or any of its member leagues, which represent the foundations of professional football and organize the vast majority of professional competitions globally, about the recent international match calendar decisions by the FIFA Council,” said the statement.

“FIFA’s decisions, including the expansion of the 2026 World Cup and the new versions of the Club World Cup, further crowd an already overloaded calendar and fail to consider the impact on domestic league competitiveness and player welfare.”

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