ZURICH: FIFA’s compensation paid to clubs that release players for the men’s World Cup has been increased by nearly 70 per cent to $355 million for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments, the global soccer governing body and the European Club Association (ECA) said on Monday.

The Club Benefits Programme affords clubs a share of national team competition revenues in return for releasing players and also protects clubs in case their players are injured on international duty.

The previous amount earmarked for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was $209 million. A renewed Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Monday at the ECA General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary.

“We are delighted to have signed this landmark agreement,” ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said.

“The MoU recognises the central role of clubs in football globally and ensures that they are properly represented in decision making around issues which affect them.”

Earlier this month, FIFA had announced a 32-team Club World Cup will be played every four years from June 2025, repla­cing its annual competition which featured seven teams.

The decision was met with opposition from leagues such as Spain’s LaLiga but the MoU will now have both FIFA and the ECA working together on its various sporting and commercial aspects for the 2025 edition.

“FIFA and ECA will also now establish closer working practices on a future new Club World Cup… and working together on future editions including on potential structures for managing the commercial rights going forward.”

FIFA also announced a newly structured international calendar which its president Gianni Infantino said had been endorsed by the ECA.

“To have the new International Match Calendar endorsed by ECA provides the necessary balance between club and national team football,” Infantino said.

“We have exciting projects ahead, including the new FIFA Club World Cup in 2025 and the new FIFA women’s Club World Cup. A close collaboration with clubs in Europe, and the rest of the world, will be essential for the success of those events.”

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023

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