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By ESPN Staff

Europe's big-guns hit impasse

Europe's top clubs are to boycott talks with FIFA over changes to the international calendar.

The European Clubs Association (ECA) say recent discussions with the world governing body have been ''disappointing'' and that they have turned down an invitation from FIFA to attend a summit on the calendar in Zurich on March 5.

ECA spokesman Marc Schmidgall said: ''We have had discussions with UEFA and we are close to finding a final agreement but talks with FIFA have been disappointing and we have decided not to attend FIFA meetings until further notice.''

The ECA is made up of 201 clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, Fulham, Newcastle, Tottenham, Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Aberdeen.

In September, the ECA called for the number of internationals a season to be slashed from 12 to six. Manchester United chief executive David Gill, an ECA board member, said last year the clubs were especially keen to get rid of international friendly dates in June and August.

He said: ''In an ideal world, we've been talking about six double-dates over the two-year period. It's a reduction but still gives the right balance to the requirements of the national teams and what the clubs want.''

ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge - who is also the Bayern Munich chief executive - has said claimed clubs are sick and tired of losing players for ''nonsense'' fixtures.

The ECA also want FIFA to take out insurance to pay for the salaries of players injured on international duty.


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