FIFA to pay for national team players' insurance

SUZAN FRASER Associated Press Published:

ISTANBUL (AP) -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter promised on Thursday that football's world governing body will pay to insure players on international duty, in a move expected to satisfy Europe's top clubs.

Blatter told UEFA's annual congress that the "total insurance coverage" will take effect after FIFA's national members approve it at their gathering in May.

"This is an insurance coverage for the players, for the clubs and the (national) associations" for all matches on FIFA's international calendar, Blatter told officials from Europe's 53 football nations. "You have to take into account the best interests of the players."

FIFA follows UEFA, which said in January it would pay for insurance at Euro 2012, after strong lobbying by the European Club Association.

The 200-member ECA campaigned after Bayern Munich lost Arjen Robben for six months when the Netherlands winger returned injured from the 2010 World Cup.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of Bayern and the ECA, lamented at the time that Robben "came back in worse condition and now we have to pay the bill."

Rummenigge had urged FIFA then to use some of its billion-dollar reserves from World Cup revenues to fund an insurance scheme.

Clubs received a share of funds at the 2010 World Cup, with FIFA paying out a daily rate from a $40 million fund for as long as each player from the 32 teams was involved in the tournament.

Still, Rummenigge said Bayern received only €57,000 (then $73,000) -- less than one week of basic pay -- for Robben's time spent in South Africa.

Blatter said Thursday that FIFA's new insurance policy should be in place when European qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup begin in September.

Thursday shaped as a profitable day for clubs worldwide, particularly those in Europe.

UEFA was set to announce an increased sum it will set aside from Euro 2012 revenues for its clubs' compensation scheme.

UEFA President Michel Platini and the ECA had previously agreed that €55 million ($72 million) would be distributed among worldwide clubs whose players were selected for the 16 squads for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine

Clubs could also receive a bonus next week from FIFA, which currently has budgeted to give $70 million in compensation to clubs for letting their players compete at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The subject is on the agenda when FIFA's executive committee meets March 29-30 in Zurich.