ECA closes in on 500 members as exco meets in Doha to review strategic initiatives

January 31 – Meeting in Qatar on the sidelines of the Asian Cup, the European Club Association’s (ECA) executive committee held its first meeting of 2024 to review key strategic development projects.

With 113 European club players representing their countries at the Asian Cup, the meeting welcomed AFC president, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, and FIFA secretary general ad interim Mattias Grafström.

Also in attendance was European Leagues President, Pedro Proença, who last week was in Nyon meeting with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin as the leagues body grows its influence and voice amongst European football’s stakeholders.

ECA chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi highlighted the rapid growth of ECA which now has 486 members, an increase of 83% since start of the 2023/24 season, with 36 new members joining since the last executive committee meeting in December 2023 in Copenhagen.

“These gatherings of the ECA’s senior leadership are so important as the organisation continues to grow at a rapid pace and we approach 500 clubs. ECA’s remit now runs much further than just Europe as our MoU with FIFA demonstrates by benefitting clubs globally via mechanisms such as the club benefits programme (distributing revenues from the FIFA Men’s World Cup to all clubs releasing players),” said Al-Khelaïfi.

“It is vitally important for football that we continue to build positive relations and partnerships with all stakeholders in the interests of all – based on win-win partnerships.”

No meeting of a European stakeholders’ organisation is complete these days without a review of the European Court of Justice ruling on the European Super League. The ECA “reaffirmed its strong belief that football is a social contract and not a legal one – a belief that is validated by all the progressive reform work that ECA is doing within its own membership base and with legitimate stakeholders of football to develop the game positively and progressively based on sporting merit, inclusiveness, open competition, and solidarity”, said an ECA release.

In other words, everything the Super League is not, regardless of whether it is constituted legally.

The executive committee also rubber stamped the finals steps of towards completing the framework (sporting, commercial and regulatory) for UEFA’s club competitions post 2024.

Two key pillars of the ECA’s workflow were given particular focus. The ECA Strategic Football Review which will look into all aspects of the game including medical and high-performance research, fan experience and engagement, and laws of the game and the use of technology.

Similarly the increased importance of sustainability and social responsibility as part of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability Regulations and the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

The ECA is organising a series of webinars for clubs and individuals, at the same time finalising its first ECA Sustainability Strategy which is expected to be completed by the end of the season.

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