Footballers’ union starts legal action against Fifa over Club World Cup

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Manchester City;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Manchester City</a> celebrate after winning the most recent Club World Cup, in <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Saudi Arabia;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Saudi Arabia</a> last December.</span><span>Photograph: Jose Breton/NurPhoto/Shutterstock</span>

European member unions of Fifpro, which represents footballers across the world, have started legal action against Fifa over the expanded men’s Club World Cup.

Fifpro said the unions, led by England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and its French counterpart, had on Thursday submitted a legal claim with the Brussels court of commerce.

It follows through on threats to take such action over the scheduling of a 32-team Club World Cup in the United States next June and July. Fifpro said it was “challenging the legality of Fifa’s decisions to unilaterally set the international match calendar and, in particular, the decision to create and schedule the Fifa Club World Cup 2025”.

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The PFA said it was seeking to enforce the legal rights of players to take guaranteed and protected breaks. Its chief executive, Maheta Molango, said: “This is an important moment for players and for their rights as employees. Everyone across football knows that the fixture calendar is broken to the point that it has now become unworkable.”

The PFA points out that the 2024-25 season is set to roll almost without a stoppage into 2025-26. The Premier League season will finish on 25 May, with the Champions League final scheduled for 31 May. There is an international window between 2 June and 10 June, before the Club World Cup gets under way on 14 June and runs to 13 July. The Premier League starts again in mid-August. The schedule mirrors that facing some players this summer.

The legal claim asks the court to refer questions to the European court of justice for a preliminary ruling. Fifpro’s case will be fought by Jean-Louis Dupont, who was part of the legal team that secured the landmark Bosman transfer ruling in 1995.

Fifpro said: “Player unions believe that these decisions violate the rights of players and their unions under the EU charter of fundamental rights while also potentially violating EU competition law.”

Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, last month described the prospect of a legal row over the Club World Cup plans as a “futile debate”. He said that even with the expanded Club World Cup Fifa organised “around 1% of the games of the top clubs in the world” and that “the one or 2% of matches that Fifa organises is financing football all over the world”.

Fifa has also said it is “fully within our rights to set the parameters of our competitions whilst respecting the regulatory framework in place”.