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'Overloaded and unworkable': 2025 FIFA Club World Cup faces legal challenge by players

FIFA President Gianni Infantino walks on the stage before the start of the 69th FIFA congress in Paris, Wednesday, June 5, 2019
FIFA President Gianni Infantino walks on the stage before the start of the 69th FIFA congress in Paris, Wednesday, June 5, 2019 Copyright AP/Alessandra Tarantino
Copyright AP/Alessandra Tarantino
By Alessio Dell'Anna with AP
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The 32-team event, up from seven, is scheduled for June-July 2025 despite unions raising concerns about increasing physical and mental demands on players.

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Player unions have legally challenged the world governing body of football, FIFA, over a new, larger version of the Club World Cup that's taking place in the US next year.

FIFA has increased the number of teams in the competition from seven to 32, prompting concerns from player associations which fear mental and physical breakdowns amid an already overcrowded calendar.

The claim has been filed with the Brussels Court of Commerce and will be likely passed on to the European Court of Justice.

“Players and their unions have consistently highlighted the current football calendar as overloaded and unworkable,” FIFPRO Europe said in a statement.

The association quickly opposed the 32-team plan after FIFA presented it in December, saying it showed "lack of consideration for the mental and physical health of participating players, as well as a disregard for their personal and family lives.”

But FIFA said the timing of the month-long tournament, during the offseason for many major leagues around the world, would ensure sufficient rest for players.

'Straw that broke camel's back', says FIFPRO

Staging the Club World Cup in 2025 means top players face three straight years of major competitions during the usual offseason, given the Euro 2024 Championship and Copa America are being staged this year and the next World Cup is in 2026.

“Since all attempts at dialogue have failed, it is now up to us to ensure that the fundamental rights of players are fully respected," FIFPRO Europe President David Terrier said.

"It’s not a question of stigmatising a particular competition, but of denouncing both the underlying problem and the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

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