FIFA moves to abolish February, August friendlies

FIFA wants to abolish international friendly matches in February

and August in a move that will appease European clubs.

Football’s world governing body announced Monday a proposed

calendar of international matches from 2015-18 after a meeting of

world football stakeholders, which was boycotted by the 200-member

European Club Association following a public falling-out with

FIFA.

The suggested calendar calls for double-header dates – playing

two matches in a protected six-day period – each March, September,

October and November, plus June in odd-numbered years.

FIFA said the calendar has ”no specific dates for friendlies,”

which have proved unpopular with clubs and even many national team

coaches.

Any noncompetitive matches ”can only be played within the

framework of the double dates,” FIFA said.

Clubs, which are obliged to release their players for calendar

matches, have lobbied FIFA to abolish the one-off friendly

dates.

The ECA has argued that international friendlies mean

unnecessary injury risks for their players, and take them away at

key times of the season.

FIFA and European club leaders have struggled to maintain a

working relationship in recent months, though the clubs had input

into the calendar talks through UEFA.

FIFA said the group meeting Monday used ”a proposal originally

submitted by UEFA as a basis for discussion.”

FIFA’s executive committee must approve the calendar at a March

29-30 meeting in Zurich.

The talks involving FIFA’s six continental confederations, plus

representatives of leagues and the global players’ union, FIFPro,

also discussed shaping the calendar through to the 2022 World Cup

in Qatar.

”It was suggested that the same principles be retained for the

2019-2022 format,” FIFA said

Qatari official Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of the 2022

organizing body, attended the talks as an invited observer.

Influential power brokers, including UEFA President Michel

Platini and FIFPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen, have

suggested that the 2022 World Cup should be played in November and

December to avoid intense heat in Qatar during June and July when

the tournament is scheduled.

Qatar has shown no interest in changing its hosting plan, which

would require an overhaul of the international calendar and

national league schedules.

FIFA also declined to add the Olympics and youth tournaments to

the calendar, which would then require clubs to make their players

available.

However, clubs’ request that players should be restricted to one

international tournament per year was not met.

FIFA said players should be allowed to play in its

Confederations Cup – a test event hosted one year before the World

Cup – as well as the Africa Cup of Nations and CONCACAF’s Gold Cup

tournament.