Europe’s top clubs agree to FIFA’s new championship

LONDON: Europe's top clubs have withdrawn their opposition to FIFA's new-look Club World Championship and agreed to play in the six-club tournament. 

World soccer's governing body announced early this year that the annual championship would start in December 2005 with all six confederations sending their champion club to Tokyo. 

The G-14 group of top European clubs immediately announced their strong opposition to the idea which, it said, ran against the clubs' policy of trying to ease the workload on players. 

UEFA, European soccer's ruling body, said on Friday that its 102-strong European Club Forum had agreed to the championship although the team concerned would not necessarily be the winners of the Champions League. 

The forum contains representatives from the clubs involved in the unofficial G-14 pressure group. 

“The European Club Forum discussed and agreed to participate in the new format FIFA Club World Championship starting in 2005, the clubs agreeing that the participation of the qualified European club be on an invitational basis only and as long as the present six-club format is maintained,” a statement said. 

FIFA announced in May that the prize money for the championship would total US$15mil (RM57mil). The tournament replaces the World Club Cup, played annually in Tokyo between the champions of South America and Europe. 

The forum also backed a proposal to allow the cancellation of yellow cards handed out in the qualifying matches for the Champions League group stage and the first round of the UEFA Cup so that all clubs entered the competitions “on a level playing field”. – Reuters 

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