The General Secretaries of the six continental confederations have met in Zurich in a renewed effort to co-ordinate the demands of national teams, leagues and clubs within the annual international football calendar.
The meeting at FIFA House, chaired by the FIFA General Secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen, received a proposal from the UEFA delegation for an annual schedule of international dates through the year 2005, with dates reserved for competitions and for friendly matches between national teams. FIFA will now co-ordinate the needs of the other five confederations, based upon the European proposal, for submission to the FIFA Executive Committee on 11/12 March 1999.
In welcoming the participants, the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, stressed once again the importance of national teams and the need for a balance between club and national team competitions. He also added how the players’ welfare must be borne in mind, as well as the interests of the public, by avoiding an over-exploitation of the market.
The meeting touched only briefly on Mr. Blatter’s idea for the World Cup to be held every two years, noting the greater urgency to clarify first the immediate annual schedule for the next two years.
It was acknowledged that various factors were involved in the fixture congestion, notably the large number of qualifying matches for continental and world competitions, the increased number of players playing abroad, and the continuing resistance of certain national leagues to reduce the number of their clubs.
With regard to the planned new world club championship, discussion revolved around two possible time-frames for the first edition of this eight-team tournament : either in January (as proposed by the FIFA Organising Committee) or July 2000. This point will also be finalised at the March Executive Committee meeting. The dates for the 1999 edition of the FIFA/Confederations’ Cup in Mexico were noted as being as 24 July to 4 August.
Michel Zen-Ruffinen asked the confederations to respond to FIFA’s proposal to make them responsible for the organisation of the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in the respective continents.
The outline and purposes of the new FIFA development programme GOAL were presented to the meeting, with an explanation of the active role of the confederations in the implementation of the project.