G14 chief sees end to legal battles

ARSENAL vice-chairman David Dein expects an end to the legal disputes between Europe’s clubs and soccer’s governing bodies during his tenure as chairman of the G14 pressure group of clubs.

The G14, which represents 18 of the world’s most powerful clubs, is involved in a battle with soccer’s world governing body FIFA over a number of issues, notably two court cases related to the release players for internationals while not being compensated if they get injured.

A Belgian court case taken against FIFA by first division Charleroi and the G14 over a player injured on international duty has been referred to the European Court of Justice, while a similar case is pending involving Olympique Lyon of France.

“I can see a negotiated settlement between all sides within the next 12 months,” Dein said after being elected chairman of the G14 at a meeting in Brussels yesterday.

Dein took over from Juventus’s Roberto Bettega and will hold the position for 12 months.

While seeking to “build bridges with FIFA”, Dein warned that failure to reach an agreement will lead to further court action.

The 63-year-old former vice-chairman of the English FA confirmed that both he and Barcelona president Juan Laporta have been in direct talks with FIFA and UEFA in a view to reaching a settlement.

Charleroi are seeking compensation after Moroccan Abdelmajid Oulmers was ruled out for eight months following a friendly against Burkina Faso in November 2004, while Olympique Lyon launched a similar action over defender Eric Abidal, who broke his foot during a France friendly.

FIFA have refused so far to accept responsibility.

“Hopefully we can stop this spill out in to the courts and that’s where I am coming from,” Dein said.

“Football on the front pages of newspapers is bad news. All we need to do now is move things forward and the G14 wants to work as a catalyst for an agreement.”

Under FIFA rules, clubs must release any player called up by a national association for qualifying games for the leading continental tournaments and friendlies. The G14 are also seeking a say in the make-up of the international calendar.

G14 says the regulations “are illegal and an abuse of FIFA’s dominant position” under European Union law and would also like a cut of the profits from the World Cup and European Championship.

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