A ball of football during the EFL Sky Bet Championship at The Den, London, England.
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The European Leagues (EL) has expressed frustration at FIFA’s decision making whilst also citing significant pressure on domestic football caused by expanding international calendars.

At the EL’s 48th General Assembly, representatives of Europe’s various top-flight domestic football decisions reached a number of conclusions. One of these was that there has been a lack of transparency at the FIFA level.

Of significant concern to EL is the introduction of new international competitions and a ‘dramatic growth’ in the number of international matches that is ‘overloading calendars’.

Although not specifically pointing to the Club World Cup, the members’ remarks do come ahead of a planned expansion of the tournament for the 2025 edition. 

Next year’s tournament, due to be held in the US, will see an expansion from the six team format in place since the competition’s inception in 2001 to a 32-team structure. The format will see the 32 clubs divided into eight groups of four teams, with each team being given at least three games to play. 

However, EL – which represents the football leagues of 31 European countries including the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 – believes that there has been inadequate communication between FIFA and regional leagues and authorities.

EL’s statement continued: “Members also expressed disappointment at the lack of transparency and formal consultation in the decision-making process at FIFA-level.”

The association asserted that more transparency is needed in global football, mirroring calls at a regional level which have stepped up in intensity since 2021 in the aftermath of the attempted European Super League (ESL) breakaway tournament.

“As recommended by the recent judgement of the ECJ on the Super League case, the leagues call for a more transparent, objective and non-discriminatory set of regulations to govern professional football and those important decisions – such as the calendar – which affect the whole ecosystem and heavily impact the domestic markets that provide the foundations of the whole football industry.”

Further clarifying his thoughts, and those of his league, was Richard Masters, who has been reported in several media outlets as having voiced particularly scathing opinions on how FIFA is run.

In particular, the Premier League CEO has taken aim at an apparent lack of representation at the global level for national league tournaments, as well as FIFA failing to consult said leagues about major decisions, such as the expansion of its club football tournament.

As quoted by The Guardian, Masters said: “When you do change the calendar, it naturally has an impact. Obviously there have been decisions taken recently about a Club World Cup coming in 2025, but there hasn’t really been consultation with the leagues. 

“We’ve worked very well with UEFA. We have a seat on the executive committee, we are working under a memorandum of understanding. The situation at FIFAis very different. There’s a difference between UEFA and FIFA, where there is none.”

Separately, the Leagues’ also commented on the introduction of new AML laws at the EU level, part of have specific stipulations for football clubs. From 2029 clubs will be classed as ‘obliged entities’ within the legislation. This will make teams subject to some AML due diligence standards.

Top-tier professional football clubs involved in high-value transactions with investors or sponsors, including advertisers and the transfer of players, will have to verify customer identities, monitor transactions and report any suspicious transactions to the EU’s Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).

The EL commented on AML rules in its statement: “The Leagues share the EU’s objective to tackle financial crime and will work closely with its members to ensure optimal national implementation of EU rules to support the continued growth of Europe’s diverse football landscape.”

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