Leagues want Europe to unite, oppose new FIFA competitions

May 3, 2018

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Europe's top leagues want colleagues on a UEFA panel to unite this month and oppose FIFA's $25 billion plan for new competitions.

FIFA has been acting with ''a clear lack of consultation and transparency,'' Lars-Christer Olsson, the CEO of the European Leagues, said Thursday after a board meeting of his 32-member group.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has pushed since March for approval within weeks from his ruling committee for a quadrennial 24-team Club World Cup and a biennial Nations League for all national teams. The 12-year deal with a Japanese-led, Saudi Arabian-backed consortium would start in 2021.

Olsson's latest barb at FIFA follows his criticism last month of its ''expansion drive'' after a 48-team World Cup in 2022 was also suggested.

FIFA's ideas require taking weekend dates from European leagues for its own competitions to use.

Olsson also said that FIFA's proposed Club World Cup prize money would ''increase the financial and sporting gap'' between clubs playing in his member's leagues. Each edition would be worth at least $3 billion, FIFA has said, with more than $2 billion shared among the 24 clubs, including 12 from Europe.

That would ''further destroy competitive balance in domestic competitions,'' the Swedish official said.

On May 16, UEFA's strategy council - including leaders of European national federations, clubs, leagues and players' union FIFPro - will meet in Lyon, France, during the FIFA consultation period.

The leagues called on other European officials to ''firmly oppose and together stop this unilateral initiative from FIFA.''

The $25 billion investment offer to FIFA includes guaranteed money from the consortium which wanted agreement inside a 60-day deadline which expires in mid-May. FIFA has declined to fully identify the investors citing a non-disclosure agreement.

''This process reminds me of the way the `old FIFA' acted, which I thought we had left behind,'' said Olsson, a former general secretary at UEFA when Infantino also worked there.

Some of Olsson's colleagues on the UEFA executive committee could be called by FIFA to a special meeting in Zurich about the $25 billion offer.

Infantino wants his 37-member FIFA Council to approve signing the deal before the World Cup opens on June 14 in Russia.

Europe is the main potential holdout among football's six continental governing bodies. UEFA sees threats to the worldwide appeal and commercial value of its Champions League, while the Nations League proposal - including an elite eight-team final tournament - was created by UEFA last year.

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