BARCELONA: Europe's top clubs agreed on Tuesday to press for compensation payments when their players are called up for international tournaments and stressed their total opposition to FIFA's Club World Championship.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the 102-strong European Club Forum, told reporters: All the clubs are of the opinion that it is fair to ask confederations, including UEFA and FIFA, to compensate clubs for the release of players for international tournaments.
At the same time, the clubs will continue to give their full support to national team football, but we hope that it will be possible to find a practical solution which is fair to all parties.
While the clubs agreed to pursue that development, they also rejected proposals to re-launch the Club World Championship.
The tournament was held for the first time in 2000, but the 2003 tournament was cancelled because of a lack of funding. FIFA want to stage it again in 2005, but the clubs are opposed to the idea.
In a statement, they said they agreed to a reduction in Champions League matches this season to ease the workload on their players and to re-introduce the World Championship would be counter-productive.
It would be incoherent to support any additional tournament (so we have) unanimously agreed to reject, for a variety of reasons, any proposal for a FIFA Club World Championship, they said.
Plans to impose salary caps on Europe's top clubs were also dismissed, with the clubs believing that UEFA's new licensing system would control players' salaries in future.
The clubs also discussed the future of the UEFA Cup, whose format is due to change next season.
Although there was a unanimous endorsement of the new format and the need to re-brand the competition, there was no unanimity on marketing aspects, the statement explained.
A compromise proposal is to implement the new format as from the 2004-05 season and to review results over a two-year period while carrying out further investigation into the viability of adopting a centralised marketing approach.
The new format for the UEFA Cup will feature a first round knock-out phase of 80 teams, followed by a group phase involving 40 teams in eight groups of five.
The 24 teams who negotiate this stage (the top three from each group) will then be joined by eight teams from the UEFA Champions League for the final knockout phase, which will consist of 32 teams.
The proposals from the meeting will be discussed at the next UEFA executive meeting in Dublin on March 22-23. Reuters