FIFA headquarters in Zurich (Getty)

(WFI) FIFA has struck a compensation deal with European clubs that triples the payment made to those releasing players for the Russia and Qatar World Cups.

A few weeks ago FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke snubbed Europe’s leading clubs’ demands for compensation over moving the Qatar World Cup to November/ December. The FIFA ExCo ratified that decision at its Zurich meeting yesterday, setting Dec. 18 as World Cup final day.

The FIFA No.2 angered clubs and leagues with his comments soon after the Qatar 2022 task force made its recommendation to shunt the tournament to winter. Refusing to apologise, he said there would be no compensation.

But lobbying from the 214-member European Club Association in recent weeks resulted in the FIFA announcement today of a renewal to their 2008 agreement through the Qatar World Cup. The deal was signed by Sepp Blatter, Valcke and ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

FIFA clearly hopes the size of the deal will help silence criticism of its plan to move the World Cup to winter.

A whopping $209 million will be distributed among the clubs releasing players for the Russia 2018 World Cup. The same amount has been agreed for the Qatar 2022.

For the Brazil 2014 World Cup, clubs received a share of just $70 million.

Blatter’s comments suggest he hopes the hand-out will put an end to the war of words between the European clubs and leagues over compensation following the move to a winter Qatar World Cup. “We are taking a huge step forward in promoting relations between FIFA and the clubs in a spirit of mutual and constructive cooperation,” he said.

The ECA registered its satisfaction with the deal, saying “it means recognition, protection and motivation for the clubs whose players light up the international stage”.

It noted additional benefits. The ECA now has a mandate to promote clubs’ interests at FIFA level and has negotiated to have a direct say on finalizing the international match calendar. The Club Protection Programme, in which clubs are compensated for losses due to players being injured while on international duty, remains in force and will also cover women’s football on the global stage in the future.

“In serious and fair negotiations, the ECA has agreed with FIFA on a transparent economic and organisational cooperation until 2022,” said ECA chair Rummenigge.

He said the ECA would contribute constructively to develop the international match calendar, especially for 2022.

“Moreover, the World Cup club benefits will triple from $70m to $209m for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022. These payments will benefit clubs from around the world who release World Cup players to their respective national associations. From an ECA perspective, this agreement is a great achievement. It marks another milestone for club football as a whole,” he added.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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