FIFA Agrees to Insure Soccer Players on Demands by Clubs

Soccer’s governing body agreed to pay for insurance for players representing their national teams after FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave in to pressure from Europe’s biggest soccer clubs.

Players including Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben returned injured from the 2010 World Cup, leading clubs to threaten not to renew an agreement to release players for national team duty. The pact expires in 2014.

Blatter said the insurance will be approved at next week’s meeting of FIFA’s executive committee and likely be ratified at the Zurich-based organization’s Congress in May. It will take effect at the start of the European qualification phase for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“You have to take into account the best interest of the players,” Blatter told European ruling body UEFA’s Congress in Istanbul. “The players are the actors.”

The cost of the insurance is “tens of millions” of dollars, Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA’s head of competitions, said in an interview.

UEFA plans to increase compensation to clubs for players released for national team matches. It will pay 100 million euros ($132 million) relating to this year’s European Championship, and 150 million euros for the 2016 tournament. It contributed 55 million euros in 2008.

Last month, UEFA and leading European clubs agreed to a new international match calendar proposal which features nine double headers played over two years. The calendar is FIFA’s responsibility, and will also be discussed by FIFA’s executive next week, Blatter said.

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