European clubs attack proposed FIFA reforms

Fri Dec 4, 2015 9:30am EST
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - A package of reforms proposed by FIFA to clean up the scandal-plagued governing body of soccer was angrily criticized on Friday by Europe's powerful clubs, who said it would increase frustration among the sport's stakeholders.

The European Club Association (ECA), which represents more than 200 clubs including top sides like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, said its members were "not prepared to be further ignored" and were leaving "all options open."

FIFA is in the throes of an unprecedented crisis, with criminal investigations into the sport under way in the United States and Switzerland. Its president Sepp Blatter is among officials who have been suspended by its own ethics committee.

Soccer bosses from across South and Central America were among 16 people charged on Thursday by the United States with multi-million-dollar bribery schemes for marketing and broadcast rights, bringing the total number of indictments so far to 41 in a probe spanning dozens of countries.

The same day, FIFA announced a package of planned reforms including limits to the number of terms top officials can serve and a new separation of policy and management positions, with a 36-member FIFA council replacing the 25-member executive committee.

"ECA will now take the required time to assess how it wishes to position itself in relation to this latest development, leaving all options open," said the club association in a statement.

Nearly all the world's top players are with European teams. FIFA's international competitions depend on a calendar, agreed between FIFA and the clubs, which allow them to be released for their national teams on certain dates.

If the clubs were to pull out of those agreements, it could throw international soccer into chaos.   Continued...

A journalist walks in front of FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland December 2, 2015.    REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann