Are footballers set to strike? Revamped FIFA Club World Cup forces International Player’s Union to consider action

In 2025, some of the best 32 teams in the world are set to descend upon the US next June and July for a new FIFA Club World Cup format.

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have already qualified for the new format, alongside the likes of Real Madrid, Palmeiras, Fluminense, and Manchester City.

However, the tournament is under threat.

The international ­players’ union, FifPro, has called on FIFA, the game’s global governing body to postpone its expanded Club World Cup or face the prospect of legal action or more.

“Jeapordising the health and wellbeing of players”

FifPro and the World Leagues organisation have written to FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, asking him to reschedule the tournament.

The letter states:

“FIFA’s recent strategic approach of developing its own competitions – such as the World Cup, the Club World Cup or the Intercontinental Cup – is adversely disrupting the football industry, jeopardising national leagues and affecting the health and wellbeing of players” 

“Over a significant period, Fifa has ignored repeated attempts by leagues and unions to engage on this issue. Leagues and players cannot simply be expected to ‘adapt’ to Fifa’s decisions, which are driven by Fifa’s business strategy. We have reached the point where this situation must immediately be addressed both from a procedural and substantive perspective.”

The letter calls on FIFA to announce the rescheduling of the Club World Cup and Intercontinental Cup at its global congress in Bangkok next week.

If not, “we shall be compelled to advise our members on the options available to them … to ­proactively safeguard their interests. These options include legal action against Fifa, on which we have now commissioned external expert advice.”

In response, FIFA has rejected claims that FIFPro and the World Leagues Association were not consulted.

“Best interests of world football”

In a letter sent to FifPro and the WLA, Fifa says it has “a duty and responsibility” to implement an international match calendar in the “best interests of world football”.

Fifa insisted Fifpro and the WLA were consulted about changes to the overall 2025-30 international match calendar, including the 2025 Club World Cup, which was confirmed by the Fifa Council in December 2022.

Fifa say they are open to talks but has no intention of altering next year’s Club World Cup:

“While we disagree with the tenor and content of your letter, we have nonetheless taken note of your concerns and are more than happy to invite you to discuss the matter further at a time convenient to you”

However, it is “fully within our rights to set the parameters of our competitions whilst respecting the regulatory framework in place”.

Fifa asked if Fifpro and the WLA had been in touch with other bodies, given their games “are responsible for a fractional amount of the total elite club games around the world”.

Evidently, this is a dispute that is unlikely to be resolved soon and puts the onus on the players trade union to take action.

If FIFA do not compromise, strike action may be inevitable.

GGFN | Oscar O’Mara

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