March 26, 2019 / 2:18 PM / in a month

European clubs reiterate refusal to play in 2021 Club World Cup

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The umbrella organisation representing more than 200 European clubs reiterated on Tuesday that its members would not take part in FIFA’s planned 2021 Club World Cup under current circumstances.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Lazio v Juventus - Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy - January 27, 2019 Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli before the match REUTERS/Alberto Lingria/File Photo

However, the European Club Association (ECA) said it would contemplate changing its position if FIFA sat down and discussed changes to the international match calendar.

“We are not willing to participate in this competition at this moment in time because of the congested calendar,” ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli told reporters. “Having said this, we are more than available to discuss changes for the future.”

Agnelli complained that FIFA had given too little information about basic matters such as who would qualify for the planned competition.

“The way this has been managed is like managing the local lottery for thanksgiving,” said Agnelli. “As it stands, we have nothing there.

“We (the clubs) are the ones taking the risks, we are investing in the long term, we are investing in players, in infrastructure, we are the ones who carry the entrepreneurial and financial risks.”

Agnelli, also the president of Juventus, added that he did not know how his club could qualify for the competition.

“I don’t understand how we could take part because there is no access list,” he said.

FIFA decided at a meeting of its policy-making Council in Miami earlier this month to go ahead with a revamped Club World Cup, featuring 24 teams, from 2021. The existing Club World Cup is staged annually and features seven teams.

Agnelli, who said FIFA had overlooked ECA’s request not to make a decision in Miami, did not accept the argument that the tournament would occupy a slot in the calendar usually allocated for the Confederations Cup, which will no longer by played.

“(The argument of) substituting the Confederations Cup with the Club World Cup doesn’t make much difference in our view so there is a congested calendar which can only be addressed in the years to come,” he said.

Agnelli also denied that the ECA has proposed playing Champions League matches at weekend from 2024 onwards, when the present format is due to be altered.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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