Fifa faces legal threat over congested calendar

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World governing body Fifa is facing the threat of legal action from world players’ union Fifpro and the World Leagues Association – which includes the Premier League – if it continues with plans to host a 32-team Club World Cup at the end of next season.
They say the global football calendar is “now beyond saturation, to the point that national leagues are unable to properly organise their competitions” while “players are being pushed beyond their limits, with significant injury risks and impacts on their welfare”.
BBC Sport reported in December that the PFA was taking legal advice over the lack of consultation over an increasingly congested calendar and the impact that was likely to have on its members.

PFA chief executive Maheta Molango has been part of a series of high-level discussions over the intervening period, including the European Leagues general assembly last month when Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the calendar was ‘at tipping point’.
Next season, all three European club competitions will be expanded to 36 teams. The Champions League and Europa League will have eight first-phase games compared to the current six. It is possible a club would have to play 17 matches to win either competition.
Manchester City and Chelsea are among the 12 European representatives at the expanded Club World Cup, to be held in the United States in June and July next year.
In a letter addressed to Fifa president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Mattias Grafstrom, seen by BBC Sport, Fifpro and the World Leagues Association say if Fifa extends its own competitions then it should alter others.
It adds that “imposing the burden of adaptation on national leagues and players is inherently abusive” and is “jeopardising national leagues and affecting the health and wellbeing of players”.
However, BBC Sport understands Fifa believes it has taken into account player welfare with their scheduling programme.
It argues that in a country that has an 18-team league with one cup competition – like Germany – the Club World Cup and Intercontinental Cup would only account for 2.3% of matches played at club level over the course of the season.
It also believes the influential European Clubs’ Association backed the Club World Cup plans in a statement in December.
Fifpro and the World Leagues Association believe they have already provided Fifa with ample opportunity to address their concerns.
However, in their letter they state clearly that if Fifa “refuses to formally commit to resolving the issues” at its council meeting in Bangkok on 17 May, members will be advised “on the options available to them”.
“These options included legal action against Fifa,” they said.
The Fifa council meeting in Thailand will see all 211 member associations get together, with a vote on the host nation or nations of the 2027 Women’s World Cup set to take place.
The threat of legal action against Fifa comes against a backdrop of Premier League clubs announcing lucrative post and pre-season tours.
On Thursday, West Ham, Wolves and Crystal Palace announced a three-team pre-season tour of the United States, while Newcastle and Tottenham will play one another in Melbourne, Australia just three days after the end of the Premier League season.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Bournemouth will all tour the United States next summer.

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