Europe’s top clubs reach agreement with UEFA

Europe’s top soccer clubs have reached a new cooperation
agreement with UEFA to give them a bigger share of European
Championship profits and insure salaries for players injured while
on international duty.

The European Club Association said on Tuesday that the renewed
accord runs through May 2018, but ”unsatisfactory” talks with
FIFA were locked in stalemate.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge announced the ”major
breakthrough” with UEFA at a meeting of the 200-club group in
Warsaw, Poland.

”The negotiations have not always proved easy, but were always
conducted in a fair and respectful manner,” Rummenigge said in a
statement, praising UEFA President Michel Platini. ”Unfortunately,
discussions with the FIFA president have failed to lead to a
satisfactory outcome which takes account of the clubs’
demands.”

The ECA was created in 2008 to give clubs a greater voice in
talks with UEFA and FIFA after years of hostile relations during
which elite clubs were represented by the G-14 group.

However, talks to renew the ECA’s initial working agreements
have exposed problems between Rummenigge and FIFA President Sepp
Blatter over insurance policies and the number of fixtures on the
FIFA-approved international calendar, when clubs are obliged to
release their players to national teams.

The ECA has focused more on relations with UEFA and Platini, who
is the favorite to succeed Blatter at FIFA in 2015.

Rummenigge and ECA general secretary Michele Centenaro have
refused FIFA’s invitations to attend international calendar talks
in Zurich next Monday.

Still, the clubs have had input through UEFA’s proposal to the
debate involving all six of FIFA’s continental confederations.

European soccer would accept nine double-header international
match dates in each two-year tournament qualifying cycle, and wants
exhibition dates in February and August abolished.

The ECA said Tuesday it wants to restrict players to one
international tournament each year, which could limit call-ups to
the London Olympics.

FIFA said its calendar working group could present a proposal
for international match dates running from 2015 through 2018 or
2022 to Blatter’s executive committee, which meets March 29-30 in
Zurich.