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ECA General Assembly

Club reps visit 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar

The conference room at the St. Regis Hotel in Doha was packed on Tuesday as representatives from 153 member clubs attended the European Club Association (ECA) 10th General Assembly in Qatar, host nation for the 2022 World Cup. In his capacity as ECA chairman, FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge welcomed counterparts from all over Europe to the meeting marking the organisation’s fifth anniversary.

At the two-day assembly, a priority for the ECA was to acquire a better understanding of the 2022 project. “The clubs have a responsibility towards their players,” explained Rummenigge. Although there are still nine years until the tournament, this was the reason ECA accepted an invitation from the host nation and staged the General Assembly in Doha, where the Local Organising Committee held an explanatory presentation and answered questions about the project.

Another important point on the agenda was the structure of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League in the competitions cycle from 2015 to 2018, with the ECA resolved to maintain the status quo for now. In a survey of 87 ECA member clubs from 36 nations, 75 percent expressed “satisfaction” or “extreme satisfaction” with the current structure and format of UEFA’s club competitions, with no fewer than 92 percent believing the two competitions should continue to exist in parallel.

Naturally, Financial Fair Play was a topic on the ECA General Assembly agenda. Recent investigations indicate that a number of clubs in Europe are still living significantly beyond their means, prompting Rummenigge to issue another urgent appeal, calling on the clubs to respect the Financial Fair Play regulations. The licensing system, including a break-even rule to be observed by the summer of 2013, comes into full force in 2015.

Alongside a number of other topics, the assembly discussed Third Party Ownership (TPO), under which third parties may accrue the right to a proportion of transfer revenues associated with a given player. The club representatives staged a very lively debate on this important but very complex phenomenon. Ultimately, there was no unanimity among ECA members as to whether TPO should be banned or not, and the association resolved to engage with and work alongside UEFA and world governing body FIFA to resolve the matter.