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Soccer player unions launch legal action against FIFA over ‘endless’ games

Messi and Argentina back training at Inter Miami ahead of Guatemala friendly. Source: AFA

The unions for professional European soccer players have started legal action against FIFA over the expanded men’s Club World Cup, saying playing more games violates players’ rights with no scope for rest between seasons, the global union said on Thursday.

England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and France’s players’ union (UNFP), both part of the global FIFPRO union, submitted a legal claim with the Brussels court of commerce on Thursday.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA said in May it would not consider rescheduling its 32-team tournament, which sets different club teams from around the world against each other.

It’s scheduled for June 15-July 13 next year, after the union FIFPRO and the World Leagues Association (WLA) threatened legal action if it did not review the plans.

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“Player unions 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,” PFA chief executive Maheta Molango said.

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“The most in-demand players are now part of an endless schedule of games and competitions for club and country, with their limits constantly being pushed through expansion and the creation of new competitions.”

“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 (IMC) and, in particular, the decision to create and schedule the FIFA Club World Cup 2025,” FIFPRO said in a statement.

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

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

“I am constantly told by those members that what they want is a properly protected break where they can rest and recharge,” Molango said.

The PFA said Premier League players would finish the 2024-25 season at the end of May, following which some would play in the UEFA Nations League Finals.

The month-long Club World Cup kicks off four days later — meaning some players would be in action for 12 months straight with no time to rest with clubs beginning their pre-season in July.

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

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