Europe’s top clubs losing patience with Fifa over scheduling of friendly matches

EUROPE’S top clubs last night slammed world governing body Fifa for scheduling a round of international fixtures this week, calling the decision “nonsense”.

The European Club Association (ECA), which represents 197 teams including Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, is lobbying Fifa for a greater say in how the game is run.

And one of the top items on its agenda when delegates gathered yesterday for its general assembly was the international calendar, and the timing of games such as England’s friendly in Denmark tonight.

“There is not a national team manager or a club manager who is happy there is an international friendly match tomorrow. It's just nonsense,” said Umberto Gandini, a director of AC Milan and vice-chairman of the ECA.

“The national managers do not have the players for long enough and the club managers are left with three or four players for training before this weekend’s matches and the restart of the Champions League next week.

“We suddenly realised that Fifa can alter the international calendar when they like. This week’s friendlies are the result of Fifa’s poor logical planning.”

The ECA says it has major concerns over Fifa’s governance and the confusion over issues such as whether the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held in winter or summer.

“I wouldn’t say we are at war -- the clubs are very patient -- but we have our limits,” said Barcelona president Sandro Rosell.

“We hope Uefa and Fifa will hear what we have to say to them. We have no doubt they will listen to us and consider that what we are asking for is logical and fair.