The club vs. country topic seems to be heading down a ver slippery slope as 2014 quickly comes to a close. Many events could see some major complications as UEFA is using their leverage in order to be able to challenge Sepp Blatter’s authority and this battle could harm various national teams in 2015. The agreement in which European clubs were required to release players for international duty expired this past September and now UEFA wants to flex its muscle complicating teams from various confederations that will have matches outside of Europe.
The European footballing authority decided that they will not renew that Pact that FIFA made with the different confederations, thus complicating the release of players that would be called up by their national teams to play in matches outside of the continent where they play their club ball; in this case Europe.
This is where the European Club Association (ECA) steps in and could throw a monkey wrench in next March’s international dates. This time is crucial for several national teams, European clubs as well an many authorities know that their clubs accounted for 75 percent of players that participated in past World Cup in Brazil. This is why their impact would be felt by many national sides and would limit the options of their preparations for various tournaments that will take place in 2015.
The ECA have the backing of UEFA president Michel Platini, whose personal row with Blatter is well documented when they were reported to have had heated exchanges in Brazil during the World Cup. This is just another example of the discord that is going on between UEFA and FIFA as well as both sides want to have their respective international calendars respected as well as other political moves that are going on. DFB president Reinhard Reuball’s comments about his desire for Sepp Blatter to step down as FIFA president and UEFA possibly leaving FIFA were a keg of dynamite in that already tense relationship.
Add to that the ongoing investigation that FIFA has going on against individuals like Franz Beckenbauer, Ángel María Villar and Michel D’Hooge for refusing to take part in the investigation led by former US Attorney Michael García and this leads to bigger battle on the horizon with various casualties that will be added to an ever-growing list.
This measure will affect especially teams in South America and Africa. For many in CONMEBOL it would be the only time from the beginning of the year to June when Copa América kicks off when they will have a chance to prepare for the tournament in Chile. This could also complicate matters for any national side that would be playing friendly matches outside of Europe as the top five leagues in that continent (England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy) are willing to follow through on this threat.
For CONMEBOL, there would also be issues with players being released in time for Copa America and many European leagues end in late May. The Copa America is scheduled to begin on June 11- five days after the Champions League final that will be held in Berlin next year. This would complicate players like Lio Messi, Javier Mascherano, Luis Suárez, James Rodríguez, Marcelo, Sergio Agüero, Willian, Oscar, Carlos Tevez and many other South American stars that could end up in that final.
The effects could also be seen in CONCACAF as the Gold Cup will be overlapping with Champions League qualifying stages. If any player would have clubs participating in that phase of the tournament, the clubs would be within their right to not allow a player to be released.
Meanwhile, the African sides could endure a great deal of harassment by clubs when they have their players taking part in the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea in January.