Europe's top teams have signed a six-year deal with FIFA and UEFA that will give them greater insurance coverage for their players on international duty, a bigger slice of the revenues from the European Championships and more say in the sport's running.
"Today is an historic day for soccer," said European Club Association [ECA] chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "With this agreement, UEFA clearly recognizes the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of international soccer. The agreement reflects an improved balance between international and club soccer and is a great success for the European soccer family."
Rummenigge, whose ECA represents 201 of the most powerful clubs from 53 countries, also heralded the reduction in the number of international games. The two-year qualifying period for the 2014 World Cup will be comprised of nine "doubleheaders" -- games on a Wednesday and Saturday, for example -- with no "single-date" friendlies.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter promised that the governing body would now insure every player in all international matches "for the best interests" of the game.