NYON, Switzerland (AP) – The European Club Association is refusing to join FIFA talks on creating an international match calendar after another breakdown in their working relationship.
FIFA has invited world football stakeholders to a meeting on March 5 in Zurich to discuss when clubs must release players for national team matches from 2015 through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The 200-member group of clubs said Friday that chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and general secretary Michele Centenaro declined their invitations.
''It's a response to the discussions we held with FIFA over the last couple of weeks,'' ECA spokesman Marc Schmidgall said. ''The board decided that, until further notice, no ECA executive will participate in FIFA meetings.''
The ECA believes FIFA packs the schedule with too many international matches, and won't insure the salary of players injured on national duty.
Clubs want the calendar to include six double-header dates for international matches in a two-year tournament qualification cycle, while FIFA and UEFA prefer nine. They also want to abolish single-match dates for friendlies in February and August.
Europe's top clubs will present their own proposals at a Feb. 27-28 meeting in Warsaw, Poland.
Troubled relations could affect the release of players for the London Olympic tournament beginning in July. That tournament is not protected on the FIFA calendar and clubs are not obliged to let their players attend at a key time for preseason preparations and Champions League qualifying.
The ECA has had input to the FIFA calendar process through its consultation with UEFA.
Clubs have better relations with UEFA and President Michel Platini, who have agreed to help fund an insurance scheme. UEFA also helps fund the ECA through Champions League revenues.
Rummenigge, however, has been openly critical of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, accusing his organization of lacking transparency and genuine democracy.
The ECA and FIFA have signed a co-operation agreement which expires in 2014, when the existing international calendar also runs out.
Clubs have a similar agreement with UEFA, which governs participation in the Champions League, though UEFA announced last month that the two sides made good progress in recent talks.
FIFA said the working group on March 5 could result in a proposed calendar - through 2018 or 2022 - being sent for approval to the executive committee, which meets March 29-30.