Gill gets hots for Europe’s sixy plan for in­ter­na­tion­als

Midweek Sport - - TV GUIDE - By MARK BUR­TON

EUROPE’S lead­ing foot­ball clubs want to re­duce the num­ber of in­ter­na­tion­als to just six a year.

The fig­ure was re­vealed yes­ter­day by Manch­ester United chief ex­ceu­tive David Gill – a move which could spell the end of friendly matches.

Gill, speaking after the Euro­pean Clubs’ As­so­ci­a­tion’s (ECA) an­nual congress in Geneva, said they want to re­duce the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional dates to just 12 over a two-year pe­riod, or six a year apart from fi­nals tour­na­ments.


That would mean ei­ther much smaller qual­i­fy­ing groups or very few friendly fix­tures, or even none at all.

Next year there are 11 in­ter­na­tional dates in the cal­en­dar – not in­clud­ing Euro 2012.

Gill, a mem­ber of the ECA board, said the clubs were es­pe­cially keen to get rid of in­ter­na­tional friendly dates in June and Au­gust.

He said: “In an ideal world, we’ve been talk­ing about six dou­ble-dates over the two-year pe­riod.

“It’s a re­duc­tion but still gives the right bal­ance to the re­quire­ments of the na­tional teams and what the clubs want.”

Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge, ECA chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Bay­ern Mu­nich, said the clubs were tired of re­leas­ing their play­ers for “non­sense” matches”.

Rum­menigge said: “ We have to come back in favour of qual­ity, not quan­tity.

“When I played in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in the 1980s there were eight teams. Now it is 16 and in 2016 it will be 24.

“The World Cup is sim­i­lar, from 16 teams to 32 now.

“Ev­ery­thing in the in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar is bal­anced in favour of na­tional teams.

“Qual­i­fy­ing groups used to have groups of four, now it is six or seven. It has to be stopped that we re­lease play­ers for non­sense dates.”

Rum­menigge played down sug­ges­tions the ECA clubs would break away from FIFAand UEFAif their de­mands were not met, and backed FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter to bring in re­forms of the world gov­ern­ing body.

“Our goal is not to break away but to find good so­lu­tions,” he added.

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