Premier League threatens Club World Cup boycott as FIFA face U-turn over illegal proposal

Will Ford
Master Infantino Club World Cup
Richard Masters is spearheading a boycott of the Club World Cup.

The Premier League will join forces with football’s top leagues on Thursday to threaten FIFA with a boycott of the Club World Cup over the global governing body’s illegal proposal.

The inaugural revamped 32-team tournament is scheduled to take place in the USA next summer and will feature holders Manchester City, as well as Chelsea, who won the competition in 2021.

£600m but seven more games

The Club World Cup has previously taken place in December of each year and has featured just four rounds of games, with the European and South American champions only entering at the semi-final stage. The tournament as a whole lasted less than two weeks.

But the new competition – which boasts a whopping £600m prize fund – will last four weeks, with the finalists playing seven games in that time.

FIFA chiefs have brushed off fears of player welfare in the interests of money but Premier League chief Richard Masters, PFA boss Maheta Molango and La Liga president Javier Tebas are spearheading a threat to boycott the competition over the unsustainable player workload.

The threat is clear: “We will not play in your Club World Cup — you’re killing the game.”

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‘A problem for the whole of football’

Molango told The Sun that he and other football chiefs have tried to talk to FIFA about the issue, but they’re refusing to take their concerns on board.

He said: “Football is killing its own product. Those who run the game need to listen. If they don’t, then as unions we have a responsibility to the players to take action — and the legal route is the next step.

“The governing bodies have had every chance to meaningfully engage with us on this, but they have failed to do so. Current player workloads are unsustainable. People are realising the amount of games being pushed into the fixture calendar just don’t fit. This is a problem for the whole of football.”

The PFA and the international players’ union FIFPRO believe that the scheduling of the Club World Cup between domestic seasons will force players back into action without the minimum three-week downtime written into all pro contracts.

They believe what FIFA are proposing is therefore illegal and lawyers have been asked to prepare legal documents to send to FIFA unless there is a U-turn on the tournament.

Masters will sit with Tebas and Molango at Thursday’s FIFPRO and PFA workload conference in London.