Club World Cup: Unions sue FIFA

Club World Cup: Unions sue FIFA

The English and French professional football players’ unions are suing the international football association FIFA. The lawsuit, which the international players’ union FIFPRO threatened to file before the most recent FIFA Congress in May, was filed with the Brussels Commercial Court, which is requesting that the court refer four questions to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.

The players’ unions are protesting against FIFA’s design of the international match calendar. They criticize it as being one-sided, especially in light of the scheduling of the Club World Cup with 32 teams in the summer of 2025, which is to take place in the United States. Reforming the Club World Cup is one of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s key projects.

When the lawsuit was threatened, FIFA had rejected the accusation of one-sided scheduling, saying that all relevant parties had been consulted, FIFA Secretary General Mattias Grafström had written.

Prize money still unclear, television rights not yet awarded

Now the players’ unions are seeking legal action. Represented by Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, who became known through the Bosman proceedings, they are relying, among other things, on the employee protection rights set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Among the questions that the plaintiffs believe the ECJ should decide is the right to collective bargaining in accordance with Article 28 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. At the same time, they are also asking about possible violations of competition law in light of the ECJ’s decision on the Super League from last December. As marketers of their competitions, sports associations such as FIFA are subject to European competition law just like all other sports associations that operate in a market economy.

The Club World Cup, promoted by Infantino, is planned to take place in the United States from June 15 to July 13, 2025. It has not yet been announced how much prize money the clubs will play for, and the television rights for the tournament have not yet been awarded. On Monday, a statement by Carlo Ancelotti, the coach of Champions League winners Real Madrid, in an interview with the Italian publication “Il Giornale” caused a stir. The Milan newspaper quoted him as saying that FIFA was forgetting that Real would not take part in the tournament and that other clubs would also turn down an invitation.

Shortly afterwards, the club made it clear that it wanted to compete and that participation had never been in doubt. Ancelotti wrote on the X platform that his words had not been interpreted in the way he had intended. Nothing was further from his mind than turning down the “great opportunity”. The “Il Giornale” website continues to quote Ancelotti’s contrary answer in the interview. FIFPRO, which supports the players’ unions’ lawsuit, said in a statement on Thursday that the tournament planned for mid-June to mid-July would mean up to six weeks of extra work for football professionals.

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