To the surprise of no one, European clubs oppose FIFA president Gianni Infantino
's plan to expand the World Cup to 48 teams in 2026.
FIFA looks at a tournament expanded from 32 to
48 teams as that many more games for which it can sell tickets to fans and sell rights to television networks and corporate sponsors
European clubs (which employed 76 percent of the
players in the 2014 World Cup) look at all those extra teams as that many more players who'll be away for a month or two.
That means more chances of their players getting hurt and more
vacation time they'll need to give out on the back end -- when preseason camp has already begun. All fair points.
FIFA has already caved in to European clubs on scheduling before,
eliminating international fixture dates in February and August and a third date in June. (To accommodate a switch to a November-December World Cup in 2022 in Qatar, FIFA agreed to shorten the
tournament from 32 to 28 days.)
FIFA has also sweetened the pot on compensating clubs for borrowing them for the World Cup, from $40 million in 2010 to $70 million in 2014 and up to $209
million in 2022 (another concession for the inconvenience of a World Cup being played in the middle of a European season).
The European Club Association, which represents 220 European
clubs, opposes the World Cup expansion on the grounds that the number of games played "has already reached an unacceptable level."
"In the interest of the fans and the players,"
, Bayern Munich's chairman and the ECA chairman, said, "we urge FIFA not to increase the number of World Cup participants."
Rummenigge is also the deputy
chairman of FIFA's football stakeholders committee that theoretically should be looking after the interests in the sport.
"Politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in
football," he added.
That's all fine and good, but Rummenigge is hardly the right person to criticize the role politics and business play in soccer, given the ECA's push for a European
super league that will benefit the elite of European club soccer.
It's also one thing to bemoan more time players spend with their national teams in the offseason at the expense of
vacation. But it's another to then fly them all over the world for summer exhibition tours that serve only one purpose for these clubs: fill the coffers with money.