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Clubs set to spar with FIFA

sports Updated: Jan 14, 2011 00:04 IST

Europe's top clubs are preparing for tough talks with FIFA over cutting the number of international matches played. European Club Association (ECA) chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said FIFA has to accept that clubs pay the wages of players who are left "completely empty" because FIFA keeps expanding international schedules.

"We have to stop this direction, always doing more and more," Rummenigge said this week. "I really hope that FIFA is willing to accept that. We speak about our players and they are not paid by FIFA or by anybody else. That is a legal fact and has to be accepted." Rummenigge acknowledged a likely clash with FIFA President Sepp Blatter over club vs. country tensions.

Blatter said last week he wants smaller European leagues with fewer matches so players arrive fitter and fresher at FIFA's marquee World Cup event. "I have the opposite idea," said Rummenigge, who is also chairman of German champion Bayern Munich. "I am strictly against reducing club matches. I will meet Mr. Blatter in a couple of months to speak about this because I believe we have to find a realistic way."

The clubs in the 197-member group will meet next month at their semiannual ECA assembly in Geneva to formulate a strategy for influencing FIFA's international schedule, which currently runs through 2014.