FIFA boosts payments to clubs for World Cup player release to $355m for 2026 and 2030

March 28 – Clubs worldwide have secured a whopping 70% increase in their share of World Cup revenues for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments. FIFA has increased its payments to clubs for the release of players to $355 million. For the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the figure was a combined $209 million.

The move was announced as one of the key components included in a new Memorandum of Understanding between FIFA and the European Clubs’ Association, agreed at the ECA’s annual assembly in Budapest.

It brings to an end months of bickering between the two bodies over FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s desire to host a biennial World Cup, an idea that was met with huge opposition and has been put on the back burner.

The 70% increase takes into account a 50% increase in the number of players at the 2026 World Cup, which will be the first with 48 teams instead of 32.

FIFA and the ECA will also work together on a revamped, 32-team Club World Cup to be played every four years starting in 2025. Securing cooperation with Europe, which initially opposed the expansion, was essential for Infantino.

“To have the new international match calendar endorsed by ECA provides the necessary balance between club and national team football. We have exciting projects ahead, including the new FIFA Club World Cup in 2025 and the new FIFA Women’s Club World Cup,” said Infantino.

“This is a significant day for the future of football and its long-term stability. We are very happy to renew and strengthen our cooperation agreement with ECA, an important stakeholder representing clubs from all over Europe.”

“A close collaboration with clubs in Europe, and the rest of the world, will be essential for the success of those events.”

“We are delighted to have signed this landmark agreement,” ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “The MoU recognises the central role of clubs in football globally and ensures that they are properly represented in decision making around issues which affect them.”

The ECA membership is set to grow from about 240 to 330, Al-Khelaïfi disclosed, with around 100 more clubs affiliated.

In his address to ECA members on Monday, Al-Khelaifi took a veiled swipe at European Super League rebels Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who are awaiting a ruling from the European Court of Justice over UEFA’s monopoly position.

Referring to the launch and then immediate abandonment of the Super League concept, he said links between Europe’s elite clubs and UEFA was now stronger than ever.

“Thinking back to the sorry events in April 2021 – which we should not forget – the ECA’s relationship with UEFA has changed completely in the past two years,” Al-Khelaifi said. “Today, it is founded on trust, respect and common interest. As a result, we are both much stronger.”

At a press conference today to round off the ECA’s two days of deliberations,  ECA vice chairman Oliver Kahn explained how significant  the new compensation deal is.

“It’s very important for clubs who release players  so that they are protected in the event of any injuries,” said Khan.

Changing the ECA’s relationship with Fifa “was not easy”, he added, but the recently signed MoU was “a very important instrument when it comes to the protection of clubs. It’s a great outcome, bringing stability to the game.”

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