ATHENS, March 28 (Reuters) - The decision-making process that led FIFA to increase the number of teams at the World Cup to 48 starting with the tournament in 2026 is unacceptable, European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Tuesday.
The European Club Association, which represents 220 football clubs, opposes the FIFA decision which Rummenigge, the former German international who is also Bayern Munich’s chief executive, has previously dismissed as “nonsense”.
Rummenigge said on Tuesday there were also issues with transparency in that specific FIFA process, without elaborating.
“I believe it is quite clear FIFA knows we are unhappy that they increased the number of participants by 50 percent,” Rummenigge told reporters after the ECA’s general assembly.
”This is a fact. The way of the decision-making and the transparency was not acceptable from our point of view.
“They are using our players, our employees in favour of the World Cup,” he said. “We have every right to find a solution.”
FIFA voted in January to increase the size of the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 from 2026, fulfilling a campaign promise of its president Gianni Infantino, who was elected last year.
FIFA says the tournament will not last longer than it does at present but big clubs in particular are angry at the prospect of losing even more players to their national teams.
Clubs have already complained about what they say is a crowded calendar of international matches for which they must release their players on a regular basis.
“I would call now especially on FIFA and (European soccer’s governing body) UEFA to reduce the number (of international matches. We arrived at a point where players have to play too many games,” Rummenigge said.
These organisations should “think more about football and not financial and political issues,” he added. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Catherine Evans)