EUROPE’S main leagues will refuse to accept plans to expand the 2022 World Cup to a 48-team competition.
Fifa President Gianni Infantino is believed to be the mastermind of the controversial idea that was raised for the first time by South American football chiefs last week.
Infantino feels Fifa undersold many of the global TV rights for the tournament in Qatar, scheduled to be the first winter World Cup.
By expanding the tournament to 48 teams, meaning an increase from 64 matches to 80, Infantino would be able to ask for more money from TV companies.
But that would also see the planned 28-day event be spread over 32 days, effectively taking another week out of the club calendar for the 2022-23 season.
With the winter tournament already guaranteed to play havoc with the fixture list, Prem bosses will not want to lose their players for any extra time.
And Lars-Christer Olsson, head of the European Leagues umbrella body, and also on the Uefa executive committee, laid down a clear marker.
Olsson vowed: “We are not prepared to make any changes on the calendar for expanding the 2022 World Cup.
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“We have already been flexible to allow the World Cup to be played in the winter and have agreed the dates, and we are not prepared for the duration of the World Cup to be any longer.”
Olsson added: “Fifa seems to be on an expansion drive. There is also talk about expanding the Club World Cup and we have serious reservations about that too.
“It’s time people thought about the players – they need time to rest. It cannot just be money deciding how football should be organised.”
Infantino will attempt to drive through the plan at Fifa’s Congress in Moscow in June, just before the start of this summer’s World Cup.
Prem chief executive Richard Scudamore will be in Moscow in his role as chairman of the World Leagues Forum while the FA has a vote if the proposal goes to Congress rather than being decided by the ruling Council.
But Infantino, who claims appears willing to face down the major leagues in the belief they will be unable to deny their players the chance to play in a World Cup.
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