Top of the list is the scheduling of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with the ECA opposed to playing the tournament during the winter. A winter World Cup would mean a complete restructuring of the European calendar, and ECA general secretary Michele Centenaro said all clubs were opposed to “the disruption of the traditional domestic football season”.
“It has not been dealt with correctly,” said Manchester United chief executive David Gill. “There has been concern obviously in the way it has manifested itself. That is not just our view, it’s the view of more than 100 clubs individually and collectively. This is a major thing that will have ramifications for club football for three years. For it to happen in that way was somewhat surprising. This is an issue that has not been dealt with correctly.”
Another sore point is the fact that Euro 2012 and the London Olympics are separated by less than a month and Gill is opposed to releasing players for two major competitions back to back.
“A player who is in the Euro squad shouldn’t be in the Olympics squad,” said Gill. “Obviously we want to make a success of the Olympics and we are happy to release players but I think common sense will prevail.”
At the heart of the ECA’s issues with FIAF & UEFA is that old battle between club and country. Sandro Rosell, the president of Spanish champions Barcelona and an ECA vice-president has called for the ECA to play a greater role in the decision-making process of the international match calendar.
“I wouldn’t say we are at war, the clubs are very patient, but we have our limits,” Rosell told a press conference today. “We hope UEFA and FIFA will hear what we have to say to them. We have no doubt they will listen to us and consider what we are asking for and that it is logical and fair.”
The clubs are angry that FIFA have added eight additional international fixtures to the match calendar from 2011-14, including this week’s round of friendlies across Europe. AC Milan operations director Umberto Gandini, the ECA vice-chairman, said the current schedule suited no-one.
“Tell me which national team manager or club manager is happy there is an international friendly tomorrow? “All of a sudden we discover they (FIFA) can modify the calendar any time they like. If you are not heard you have to scream.”