The European arm of FIFPRO, the global labor union for professional soccer players, has launched a legal challenge against the sport’s international governing body FIFA over the revamped Club World Cup (CWC) competition in 2025 and its organization of the global soccer calendar.

England and France’s respective players' unions (the PFA and UNFP) have, with FIFPRO Europe’s backing, brought their case before Belgium’s Brussels Court of Commerce with the hope that it will be referred to the European Court of Justice.

The case stems from arguments made by FIFPRO and its members that the global soccer calendar is too saturated with matches, a fact that will detract from player welfare by increasing the physical burden and decreasing rest for players.

The 2025 FIFA CWC is set to be the first to include 32 teams – up from eight currently – through a new format in which FIFA’s continental governing bodies will all – apart from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) – receive multiple team slots.

The tournament will be contested every four years during the summer when players and teams would traditionally get a period of rest. However, with the number of summer international tournaments (both continental and global), the expansion of fixtures in the UEFA club competitions, in addition to the usual domestic calendars, player welfare has become a pressing concern.

FIFPRO has argued many times that FIFA’s CWC plans are excessive and that the number of games globally should be reduced, and not increased. In May, FIFA responded to deny the arguments, stating that its decisions for the soccer calendar are unilateral.

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Now FIFPRO is challenging this unilateral declaration, saying that it violates numerous tenets of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EUCFR), namely articles 5, 15, 28, and 31, which FIFPRO says respectively relate to: “The prohibition of forced or compulsory labor, freedom of work, the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements, the right to healthy working conditions and the right to an annual period of paid leave.”

FIFPRO stated: “FIFA finds it normal to unilaterally and abusively occupy an area which – in modern and open governance – naturally falls within the remit of the social partners and therefore of the negotiation of collective agreements between player unions and employer organizations.”

It also argued that FIFA’s domination over soccer scheduling is preventing other organizations from competing against it.

As such, the union has posed four questions to the Belgian court for it to consider in the preliminary stages of the proceedings: Does the EUCFR negate FIFA’s ability to schedule the 2025 CWC? Is the UECFR’s right to collective bargaining violated by FIFA’s unilateral decision-making? Is the right to healthy working conditions violated by CWC 2025? And is FIFA restricting competition with its unilateral decision-making?