European clubs angry over friendlies, injuries

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GENEVA (Reuters) -- European clubs have criticised soccer's governing body FIFA over the international fixture list and want compensation when their players get injured while playing for their country.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, president of the European Clubs Association (ECA), said on Tuesday the clubs want FIFA to introduce an insurance policy against injuries.

He also described the international friendlies played in August, one month after the end of the World Cup, as "nonsense" games which put the players at risk of more injuries.

"The total income made by FIFA in a World Cup is thanks to our players, paid by our clubs," said Rummenigge, who is also the Bayern Munich chairman.

"I believe it is quite fair that we take a certain part of the big cake. The cake is always getting bigger and bigger, we're not speaking about millions, we're speaking about billions and I ask FIFA as an act of solidarity... to take the risk of this insurance policy."

Rummenigge cited the case of his own club and Dutch winger Arjen Robben as an example.

"It was a classic case," he said. "Prior to the World Cup he was injured, he came back in a worse condition and now we have to pay the bill ... we still have to pay the monthly salary."

Two years ago, FIFA agreed to pay $40 million to clubs whose players took part in the 2010 World Cup, however Rummenigge said this did not go far enough.

"For releasing Arjen Robben, I heard we will get something like 57,000 euros ($72,650) from this $40 million pot but it (his salary) costs many, many times more," he said.

"We believe it is the right moment for FIFA and UEFA to care about our players, it is no longer acceptable that we have to give up our players, taking the risk in cases of injuries, then the players come back and we still have to play the salaries."


He added European soccer's governing body UEFA had been more receptive.

"We are now very optimistic that we can find a solution with UEFA regarding the insurance policy," he said.

Rummenigge then took aim at the international fixture list, in particular last month's friendlies.

"We have decided that we will intervene much more in the future in the international match calendar," he said.

"The federations such as FIFA have to recognise that the players are our employees, so we have to be more involved in this kind of matter which in the past unfortunately was not always the case.

"The August friendly date is nonsense, especially in a year where the players are coming back from a World Cup."