European clubs oppose World Cup expansion plans

Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:10am EST
 
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Europe's powerful football clubs have told soccer governing body FIFA that they are opposed to plans to expand the World Cup from its current 32 teams.

Gianni Infantino, the president of the FIFA Council, has said he wants to increase the quadrennial tournament to 48 teams from 2026 and the FIFA Council is expected to reach a decision at its next meeting in January.

However, the European Club Association (ECA), itself criticized recently over recent changes to the Champions League, said it was against any expansion.

"The number of games being played throughout the year has already reached an unacceptable level, in particular for national team players," said an ECA statement.

"The ECA Executive Board therefore rejects such initiative and has today sent a letter to Gianni Infantino calling on FIFA not to increase the number of participants at future World Cups."

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "We have to focus on the sport again. Politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in football.

"In the interest of the fans and the players, we urge FIFA not to increase the number of world cup participants."

The ECA represents more than 200 clubs across the continent although it is dominated by the big clubs who have greater voting rights within the organization than their smaller counterparts.   Continued...

 
Football Soccer -  Confederations Cup 2017 official draw - Kazan, Russia - 26/11/16.  FIFA president Gianni Infantino delivers a speech.  REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov