The row over FIFA’s controversial plans for a new Club World Cup and global Nations League has intensified, after UEFA’s president pulled no punches in a searing attack on the proposals in front of his counterpart.
Bosses at FIFA want to introduce more European clubs to a revamped Club World Cup and expand UEFA’s Nations League worldwide.
However, the controversial plans have met with strong opposition in Europe.
At UEFA’s Congress in Rome, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino sat yards away, Aleksander Ceferin took aim as the biggest issue in global football rumbled on.
In a subtle yet damning speech, the Slovenian called out ‘yes men’ who he claimed ‘lure leaders to their demise’ and suggested that by opposing the plans, UEFA was saving FIFA from itself.
‘It is often those who disagree in a measured, reasonable and constructive way, even if they sometimes do so in a direct, uncompromising fashion, who do them the greatest service, help them move forward and prevent them from making mistakes,’ Ceferin said, before suggesting that the future of the game was at stake and calling for FIFA to respect the European body.
‘By telling FIFA that we disagree with their current proposals on the Global Nations League and the Club World Cup, we show them respect and we show respect to football, the game we love and the game we must protect,’ he added.
‘We sincerely hope that FIFA will also show us respect by listening to our views… UEFA and European football deserve to be respected.’
A FIFA task force is currently exploring the feasibility of the two new competitions.
The group, which comprises members of the six confederations (AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC and UEFA) and FIFA, are to draw up proposals for the competitions’ formats. They will report to FIFA’s next council meeting in Miami on March 15.
Previous ideas for the Club World Cup, which is currently played every December featuring six teams, include expanding to a 24-team tournament played every four years.
Concerns have been raised over funding for the Club World Cup.
Infantino has previously said that plans were backed by investors prepared to pay $25billion for four of the tournaments but failed to identify the backers, citing a confidentiality agreement.
Following reports of Saudi Arabian involvement, FIFA denied any state funds are involved.