European clubs against expanded World Cup, back Infantino for FIFA

Leading European clubs will oppose any plans to expand the World Cup finals to 40 nations and are not considering a "super league" as an alternative to the Champions League, it emerged Tuesday from the European Club Association (ECA) general meeting in Paris.

Although the idea of a 40-nation World Cup has been proposed by UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the clubs were supporting Infantino in his bid to become president of football governing body FIFA.

An ECA statement following the assembly said the "healthy balance" between club and international football should not be upset by an expanded World Cup.

ECA vice-chairman Umberto Gandini of AC Milan said the extra strain on players would not be acceptable for European clubs, who pay the players' wages.

Rummenigge meanwhile told dpa it was "too early to talk" to talk about a European "super league." Instead talks were being held on how the European club competitions could be further developed.

"It is important to get a well-balanced solution for all involved," he said.

Last month the Bayern Munich chairman had spoken in Italy of the possibility of a new competition involving Europe's top clubs.

"I don't rule that in the future a European league consisting of the big teams from Italy, Germany, England, Spain and France will be founded," he was quoted as saying at the time "This could be either organized under the aegis of UEFA or privately."

Rummenigge has expressed concern that a new television deal for England's Premier League's posed a threat to other European leagues. The top clubs will be seeking greater revenue from the Champions League and Europa League in negotiations for the 2018-2021 cycle.

On the backing for Infantino, Rummenigge told dpa: "We haven't got a vote but in the spirit of football we are supporting Gianni Infantino."

European clubs had always been able to worked "in a position of trust" with Infantino, he said.

Infantino is one of five candidates standing in the election on February 26 in Zurich to succeed banned outgoing president Joseph Blatter.

Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, former FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France, and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale are the other candidates.

On Monday, the federations of Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland and Slovakia said they would all vote for Infantino.

European body UEFA's executive committee has unanimously endorsed Infantino but it is not clear if all 53 UEFA members will also give him their backing. He would need a majority of the 105 votes from the 209 FIFA member federations.

The African confederation CAF has endorsed Sheikh Salman, but it appears that not all African federations will follow the recommendation.

Liberian federation president Musa Bility was reported as saying Monday at least 26 nations will vote independently. Liberia is to support Prince Ali, while South Sudan has pledged to vote for Infantino.

Last update: Tue, 09/02/2016 - 19:28

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