UEFA group raises doubts on $25 billion FIFA deal

FIFA President Gianni Infantino. (Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

LYON, France — European soccer leaders have "serious reservations" about FIFA’s plans for a $25 billion, 12-year deal for two new international competitions.

The doubt cast by UEFA’s Professional Football Strategy Council on Wednesday could mean that FIFA President Gianni Infantino will struggle to reach an agreement before the World Cup kicks off next month.

In March, Infantino said FIFA had 60 days to agree on a $25 billion guaranteed investment. That deadline seemed to expire this week.

FIFA wants to relaunch the Club World Cup as a 24-team tournament played every four years, and create a global Nations League played by more than 200 countries every two years. FIFA would create an agency to jointly run the competitions with Japanese-led, Saudi Arabian-backed investors.

The new competitions would start in 2021 and replace the current Club World Cup, which is played annually, and the Confederations Cup, which acts as a World Cup warm-up event.

"The PFSC unanimously expressed serious reservations about the process surrounding the FIFA Club World Cup and Global Nations League proposals and in particular the hasty timing and lack of concrete information and underlined the need for a clearly defined procedure, which respect existing structures and decision-making bodies and which involves all key stakeholders," the UEFA-led council said in a statement.

The council is chaired by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and includes representatives of club, league and player union groups.

Infantino has also upset some European officials with direct approaches to elite European clubs, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United, to win their support for a project that could earn them tens of millions of dollars.

Infantino has wanted to call a special meeting of the FIFA Council in Zurich to advance the deal before that ruling committee’s next scheduled session in Moscow on June 10.

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