Thu, Jan 12, 2017 - Page 16 News List

La Liga mulls legal action against FIFA Cup plans

AFP, MADRID

FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks at a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA

La Liga president Javier Tebas on Tuesday said that he might launch a legal challenge against FIFA’s decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026.

Tebas said Europe’s most powerful and richest leagues had not been consulted on the decision that was based on FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s need to fulfil promises that saw him elected last year.

“An institution involved in sporting politics is also taking decisions that affect the politics and economics of Europe’s big leagues and these decisions can’t be taken without consensus,” Tebas told reporters.

“We will see if we will present a case to the competition commissioner of the European Union or also to the competition institutions in Switzerland,” he said.

A confidential FIFA report seen by reporters projects that a 48-team tournament would bring a cash boost of US$640 million above projected revenues for next year’s finals in Russia.

Tebas said that the big European leagues, where the vast majority of star players from around the world ply their trade, should have more of a say, with opponents to the plan citing player burn-out as one of the major drawbacks.

“I think the leagues should have their opinion heard, because 75 percent of the players in the World Cup are playing in the big European leagues and this type of organization has an effect,” Tebas said.

“Secondly, FIFA is an institution that takes political and sporting decisions, but also business decisions on TV rights, which could affect us, so I am not in favor of the expansion of the World Cup,” he said.

Soccer’s powerful European Club Association (ECA) also expressed strong opposition, describing the current 32-team World Cup model as “the perfect formula.”

“We understand that this decision has been taken based on political reasons rather than sporting ones and under considerable political pressure, something ECA believes is regrettable,” said the body, which represents Europe’s leading clubs.

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