Only Winners – Joseph S. Blatter FIFA President
The Gordian knot has been severed. After years of disputes and various legal battles, FIFA, UEFA and the leading clubs have once again found common ground. The historic meeting at the Home of FIFA in mid-January brought about some remarkable agreements … because all of the involved parties sought dialogue rather than confrontation, just as I personally have done since my election as FIFA President in 1998.
The governing bodies and the professional clubs approached each other in equal measure. There are no losers here … only winners. The dissolution of the G-I4, a body that unlike individual clubs was never recognised by FIFA, means that an organisation that has been eking out a rather unconstructive existence outside of football’s pyramidal structures will now disappear from the scene. What is more, the clubs that made up the G-14 have also agreed to withdraw all of their pending legal cases.
The G-14 is not the only body to have been dissolved, however, as the European Club Forum has been replaced by the European Club Association (ECA), a body that unites more than 100 European clubs. Furthermore, clubs will be given a platform and greater opportunities to have their say within FIFA’s structures. Once it has been approved by the FIFA Executive Committee and Congress, the current FIFA Club Task Force will be upgraded to a standing committee.
At the same time, FIFA will accommodate the clubs on various issues that have repeatedly been the subject of controversy over the years, namely the international match calendar and the release of players to national teams, particularly for double-headers, friendly matches and continental championships. The necessary adjustments to the international calendar will require further rounds of consultation, not only by the FIFA Executive Committee but also with the confederations.
A financial agreement has also been reached and with regard to the FIFA World Cup™, FIFA will make contributions to the clubs via their respective associations to cover insurance payments for injuries as well as for training compensation.
The letter of intent signed in Zurich, together with all of the related steps and measures, will ensure that the relationship with the clubs will be so much more constructive and enduring than in the past. This will be particularly true for all of the off-the-pitch issues that football is currently confronted with, whether that be transfer rulings (such as the recent Webster case), release provisions, club ownership, safeguarding the rules of sport for promotion or relegation or the relationship between our game and supranational organisations. After all, those who speak with one voice and know how to bring all of their interests together naturally carry more weight and authority.
By directly including the players with the support of the FIFPro players’ union and by reaching an agreement with the clubs, the football family has once again been reunited … all in the spirit of “For the Game. For the World (of football)”.