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.