Footballers’ unions take FIFA to court over Club World Cup

Friday, Jun 14, 2024

LAUSANNE: The professional footballers’ unions of England (PFA) and France (UNFP) took FIFA to court in Brussels on Thursday to challenge the timetable “unilaterally set” by the world body, in particular its new Club World Cup in 2025.

Players’ unions have complained that the expanded Club World Cup, due to take place in the United States in June and July next year, is an unacceptable additional burden on players. The organisations “believe that 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 global professional footballers union FIFPRO said in a statement.

With the support of FIFPRO, UNFP and PFA have asked the Brussels Commercial Court to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union by putting forward “four questions for a preliminary ruling”.

“Players and their unions have consistently highlighted the current football calendar as overloaded and unworkable”, the unions said in their statement.In early May, FIFPRO and the World Association of Football Leagues had already threatened FIFA with legal action.

The players’ representatives accuse FIFA of having “continued a programme of competition expansion despite the opposition of player unions”, in particular by expanding the Club World Cup from seven to 32 teams.

The two unions point to a possible violation by FIFA of the right of European workers to “collectively bargain over their terms and conditions of employment” and their right to “healthy friendly working conditions”, as provided for in European law. FIFA has not commented, but sources close to the governing body point out that the international match calendar was signed off by its ruling Council which features representation from all continental confederations, including UEFA.

They also insist that calendar was the result of extensive consultation, and reject any suggestion that it was imposed on the football community.