Foot­ballers' union warns FIFA plans could harm play­ers

Observer on Saturday - - Sport -

PARIS - The pro­fes­sional foot­ballers' union (FIFPro) ex­pressed their con­cern over the im­pact on the health of their mem­bers should FIFA plan to add or en­large in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments.

"In the light of the cur­rent dis­cus­sions, it would be re­miss if FIFPro did not ex­plore the im­pact of these pro­pos­als on play­ers," Bobby Barnes, pres­i­dent of FIFPro Europe, said in a meet­ing in Ser­bia.

Gianni In­fantino, the pres­i­dent of world foot­ball's gov­ern­ing body, is push­ing to re­vamp the Club World Cup, boost­ing it from seven clubs to 24 in a fouryear for­mat rather than re­tain­ing it as an an­nual event.

At the same time, he is work­ing to cre­ate a bi­en­nial tour­na­ment for coun­tries, the Global Na­tions League, group­ing eight teams in­clud­ing the win­ners of in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions in each of FIFA's re­gional con­fed­er­a­tions. In­fantino has said a group of in­vestors has guar­an­teed up to $25 bil­lion for these two com­pe­ti­tions.

Barnes, a for­mer striker who played in the English and Scot­tish leagues and in Hong Kong, told the FifPro meet­ing in Novi Sad that "while other stake­hold­ers might have other pri­or­i­ties, the health and well­be­ing of the play­ers has to be our first pri­or­ity,"

The Eu­ro­pean Leagues, an or­gan­i­sa­tion which rep­re­sents the re­gions' top do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tions, said last week that it op­posed the plans and said FIFA had open­ing a "can of worms."

FIFA is also con­sid­er­ing bring­ing for­ward the planned ex­pan­sion of the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams to Qatar in four years time.

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