A group representing more than 200 European football clubs has come out against proposals to significantly expand the World Cup. The ECA argued that there are already too many games on the football calendar.
The European Club Association (ECA) on Thursday called on FIFA President Gianni Infantino to abandon his ambition of increasing the number of teams at the World Cup from the current 32 to as many as 48.
"The number of games being played throughout the year has already reached an unacceptable level, in particular for national team players," a statement issued by the ECA said. It added that the ECA Executive Board had sent a letter to Infantino to make their position clear.
"We have to focus on the sport again. Politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in football," ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (pictured above) said in the statement.
Controversial Champions League reform
However, the ECA was essentially accused of doing the same thing when earlier this year it approved controversial changes to the Champions League,which will see the four top-ranked leagues - Germany, England, Spain and Italy - each guaranteed four places in the group stage, to the detriment of smaller nations.
The four proposals to expand the World Cup are to be up for approval at the FIFA Council meeting in Zurich in January. The one currently favored by Infantino would see the World Cup expanded to 48 teams divided into 16 groups of three.
DFB's opposition dropped
The ECA's statement comes two days after the president of the DFB (German football association), Reinhard Grindel, said he had dropped his oppositionto an expansion of the World Cup per se. However, he also stressed that 'no additional burden' should be placed on the players, and the length of the tournament should not be extended.
pfd/mf (Reuters, dpa, AP)