ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 01: Michel Platini, FIFA Vice President looks on during the 61st FIFA Congress at Hallenstadion on June 1, 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
UEFA and the European Clubs' Association have agreed to cut the number of international friendlies in next season's fixture list from 12 to 9.
The number of international breaks in European football looks as though it will be cut dramatically next season after UEFA and the clubs announced a compromise to bring the number of international matches down to nine per year from its previous twelve. Furthermore, clubs will now be compensated more fairly - the exact figure will be released next month - for their players taking part in the European Championships, and increased insurance will be taken out by UEFA on the wages of players on international duty.
While this is a positive result for European clubs, FIFA apparently still hasn't agreed to the proposed changes:
The agreement with UEFA is a major breakthrough for European club football. With this agreement, UEFA clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of national team football.
The negotiations have not always proved easy, but were always conducted in a fair and respectful manner. I sincerely thank UEFA, in particular UEFA president Michel Platini, on behalf of all European clubs and look forward to our continued cooperation.
This is once more a proof that in the European football family solutions can be found in a co-operative and fair way. While an agreement has been reached with UEFA, the situation remains unsatisfactory in relation to FIFA. Unfortunately, discussions with the FIFA president have failed to lead to a satisfactory outcome which takes account of the clubs' demands.
This is a good move for fans of top-level football. Over the past few decades, the balance of power has shifted significantly away from international play, and now the club game is king. With so many players being lost to injuries sustained during national team games, which add to an already crowded fixture list, it was high time something was done to reduce the number of international friendlies played during a season.
Less games means better football and less injuries. Removing a bunch of matches that - at best - served as guinea pigs for international managers trying new players and tricks can only be a positive thing.