Fifa face player revolt over Club World Cup as changes cause ‘economic harm’ to leagues

Fifa face player revolt over 32-team Club World Cup as changes cause 'economic harm' to leagues
Fifa face player revolt over 32-team Club World Cup as changes cause 'economic harm' to leagues

Fifa has been threatened with legal action by organisations representing the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association unless it scraps plans to launch a 32-team Club World Cup next summer.

The World Leagues Association (WLA) and FifPro have written a joint letter to Gianni Infantino demanding the “rescheduling” of the new competition, in which both Manchester City and Chelsea are due to take part.

Threatening “legal action” if Fifa’s council fails to bow to their demands when it meets in Bangkok next week, the organisations have also called for a review of its plan to resurrect the Intercontinental Cup between the holders of the Champions League and Copa Libertadores in place of the current Club World Cup.

The letter, seen by Telegraph Sport, was sent last week, days after Premier League chief executive Richard Masters publicly condemned the lack of consultation over the expansion of international club competitions amid a mounting revolt against the resulting fixture congestion.

That is echoed in the correspondence, which accuses Fifa of having “made unilateral decisions that benefit its own competitions and commercial interests, while negatively affecting national leagues and players” and of having “ignored repeated attempts by leagues and unions to engage on this issue”.

It adds: “As a result of Fifa’s recent strategy of expanding its own competitions, the calendar is now beyond saturation, to the point that national leagues are unable to properly organize their competitions, resulting in economic harm, whereas players are being pushed beyond their limits, with significant injury risks and impacts on their welfare and fundamental rights.

“Leagues and players cannot simply be expected to ‘adapt’ to Fifa’s decisions, which are driven by Fifa’s business strategy. We have reached the point where this situation must immediately be addressed both from a procedural and substantive perspective.”

Other demands include that Fifa “withdraw its decisions on the international calendar” and for the “reopening discussions on the release periods for 2024-2030”.

The letter, signed by WLA general secretary Jerome Perlemuter and his acting FifPro counterpart Stephane Burchkalter, concludes: “Should Fifa refuse to formally commit to resolving the issues, as set out above, at its upcoming council, we shall be compelled to advise our members on the options available to them, both individually and collectively, to proactively safeguard their interests. These options include legal action against Fifa, on which we have now commissioned external expert advice.”

Fifa has been approached for comment.