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A Fifa logo next to the entrance to its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. File photo: PHILIPP SCHMIDT/GETTY IMAGES
A Fifa logo next to the entrance to its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. File photo: PHILIPP SCHMIDT/GETTY IMAGES

Bengaluru — Fifpro has started legal action against world soccer’s governing body, Fifa, over the expanded men’s Club World Cup, the global players’ union said on Thursday.

Fifa said in May it would not consider rescheduling its 32-team Club World Cup, set for June 15 to July 13 2025, after Fifpro and the World Leagues Association (WLA) threatened legal action if it did not review the plans.

Fifpro said England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and France’s players’ union (UNFP), both of which are members, submitted a legal claim with the Brussels court of commerce on Thursday.

“Fifpro Europe member unions have today submitted a legal claim against Fifa, challenging the legality of Fifa’s decisions to unilaterally set the international match calendar and, in particular, the decision to create and schedule the Fifa Club World Cup 2025,” Fifpro said in a statement.

“Player unions believe these decisions violate the rights of players and their unions under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, while also potentially violating EU competition law.”

The claim asks the Brussels Court of Commerce to refer the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Fifa did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Fifpro will be represented by law firm Dupont-Hissel, founded by Jean-Louis Dupont. Dupont was involved in the landmark Bosman case of 1995 that helped rewrite the rules under which players are employed.

‘Challenge the structures’

The PFA added that the case would seek to “challenge the structures” of the football calendar and enforce players’ rights to take guaranteed breaks.

“This is an important moment for players and for their rights as employees. Everyone across football knows the fixture calendar is broken to the point that it has now become unworkable,” PFA CEO Maheta Molango said.

“Players are not being listened to and they want to see action. As their union, we have a duty to intervene and to enforce their legal rights as employees. Ultimately, that time has now come.”

In May, Fifpro and WLA expressed their concern over the expanded competition in a letter addressed to Fifa president Gianni Infantino and secretary-general Mattias Grafstrom.

Their letter said the global football calendar is “beyond saturation” and that national leagues are unable to properly organise their competitions, while players are being pushed beyond their limits, with significant injury risks.

In response, Fifa rejected their claims that it had made unilateral decisions to benefit its competitions in the international calendar.

During May’s Fifa congress in Bangkok, Infantino stressed that it only organises “around 1% of the games of the top clubs in the world”.

In addition to the 32-team Fifa Club World Cup that is set to be hosted in the US, all three European club competitions will be expanded to 36 teams from next season.

Reuters

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