Focus on future of football and football of the future
© Foto-net

At its constitutive meeting chaired by FIFA Vice-President and UEFA President Michel Platini, the FIFA Strategic Committee discussed a wide range of current topics concerning the future of football. Working groups were set up to revise the international match calendar and address the release and insurance of players for international matches. The Strategic Committee expressed serious concerns regarding third-party ownership of players and the dangers of the recent case involving Spanish club Granada 74. The committee also expressed satisfaction that FIFA would be conducting two trials with the Laws of the Game at the forthcoming FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December.

Representatives from the interest groups in the football family spent four hours reviewing the findings of the Task Force "For the Good of the Game" and the decisions passed by the FIFA Congress and debated the most pressing points in greater detail. "All of the parties involved in football must come together to decide on the future of football and on the football of the future," explained chairman Michel Platini, summarising the tasks ahead of them. FIFA President Blatter, for his part, linked the past to the present by mentioning topics which were even more vital now than they were when FIFA was founded, such as the universality of the Laws of the Game, the organisation of international competitions and, by extension, the international match calendar and player transfers.

The discussions demonstrated how closely related crucial topics in finance, politics and the organisation of competitions are and how they can only be satisfactorily resolved with comprehensive solutions. One key element in the discussions was the 6+5 rule, which is designed to protect educational programmes and national teams and would also have important benefits, including reduced transfer costs and the preservation of clubs' local and national identities. Blatter called upon the Strategic Committee to continue to use football to promote education and hope.

It was considered essential to continue developing the international match calendar. The basic points for future discussion in a working group - comprising CAF President Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), FIFA Executive Committee member Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil), English Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore, FIFPro President Philippe Piat and FIFA Executive Committee member Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) - include fixing dates for the biennial Africa Cup of Nations, dates for back-to-back international matches on Saturdays and Tuesdays, dates and suitable venues for friendlies as well as arrangements for the players' immediate return to their clubs. The avowed intent is to find an acceptable calendar for all involved, not least for the sake of the players' wellbeing. Any concessions in drawing up the calendar will therefore be based on sporting considerations and should not be influenced by financially powerful confederations.

Player insurance and compensation while on international duty, matters which are currently covered in different regulations, and the release of players are directly related to the international match calendar. A standardization could be achieved following two principles, namely, clubs could be given compensation from the prize money awarded to associations at tournaments and, as regards player insurance, FIFA and other organisers could contribute to the costs of existing policies and, similar to the fund successfully tested at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, compensate clubs whenever players are forced to drop out as a result of injury. These matters will also be dealt with as part of a working group comprising FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke, UEFA General Secretary David Taylor, Barcelona chairman Joan Laporta and Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) chairman Othman Jenayah.

Club ownership and licensing was also discussed in great depth. The new licensing system will come into force in early 2008 after the FIFA executive has ratified it later this month. FIFA President Blatter expressed sheer dismay at the decision passed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne with regard to Spanish club Granada 74. "I am very disappointed that CAS has ignored the principle of sporting criteria for qualifying for a division and opened the doors for the American franchise system to football. FIFA will take immediate action to stop this loophole by passing appropriate regulations," he asserted.

As a result of the Tevez case, immediate action was also called for as regards third-party ownership of players. The FIFA administration is working on a simple and effective solution as part of the transfer regulations that will be submitted to the world governing body's Legal Committee.

The Strategic Committee also noted information about FIFA's referee development programme and FIFA's intention to conduct two trials at the Club World Cup in Japan: the first relating to goal-line technology with a new trial of the adidas and Cairos chip-in-ball technology, and the second to the use of two additional assistant referees during matches.

A meeting of experts will deliberate on football-related health issues, such as playing at high altitude and in other extreme conditions, on 25-26 October and 1 November. There are also plans to introduce a health records card for professional footballers to improve medical monitoring. Furthermore, FIFA is planning to extend cardiac examinations, such as were undertaken before the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ and the 2007 Women's World Cup, to all of its other tournaments.

The next plenary meeting of the Strategic Committee will take place in March 2008.