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International calendar set for overhaul

The number of international matches played every year is likely to be slashed after European clubs and UEFA reached an agreement on proposals to change the international calendar.

The deal, which has still to be agreed with FIFA, would see an average of nine international matches played a year rather than 12.

There would be nine double-headers over a two-year period with no one-off friendlies such as those taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday night this week.

The compromise deal was announced at the European Clubs' Association (ECA) general assembly in Warsaw on Tuesday - the clubs last year demanded the number of internationals be halved to six a year.

UEFA also agreed to take out insurance to cover the wages of all players injured on international duty, starting at Euro 2012, and to increase the amount of money paid to clubs for their players taking part in the tournament.

The amount was €55 million for the last tournament and the new figure - a "substantial increase'' according to the ECA - will be announced next month.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed however that the clubs' boycott on talks with FIFA still stands.

Rummenigge said: "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.''

But FIFA has since pointed out that only they have the power to make changes to the calendar.

A statement said: "FIFA is surprised by recent comments made by ECA stating that they are not satisfied with their discussions with football's world governing body regarding topics of interest to the European clubs, including the international match calendar.

"FIFA would like to recall that the international dates and the international match calendar have to be applied on a worldwide basis and that this calendar is ultimately regulated by FIFA, as football's world governing body.''

The next meeting to discuss the international match calendar will be on March 5 but UEFA will have to put forward the ECA's position.

FIFA added: "Both ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and ECA general secretary Michele Centenaro are members of this working group and have been invited to attend the meeting, but have declined to take part in the meeting. ECA representatives have previously declined attendance to other FIFA committee meetings, making it very difficult for progress to be made in discussions with the European clubs.''

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