Europe's elite clubs have struck a significant blow to the power of the continent's governing body by forcing Uefa to agree to proposals scrapping the August international friendly.

The Uefa Congress in Istanbul has signed off plans for international matches over the next two years, which will include a cycle of nine double-headers and rid the game of single friendly encounters.

Clubs will also be afforded greater insurance cover should their players return from international duty having sustained an injury, with €100 million of the revenue from Euro 2012 going to clubs - which will rise to €150 million from the 2016 tournament.

Fifa had recently agreed to pay the insurance costs of players in international football from the start of qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with injury cover previously differing between national federations.

"Today is an historic day for football," said European Clubs' Association (ECA) chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"With this agreement, Uefa clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of international football.

"The agreement reflects an improved balance between international and club football and is a great success for the European football family."

This will be seen as an important victory for the ECA, and they believe it will provide adequate cover for their members who had opposed players representing their countries so soon into a new season.

It is also the latest signal of a shift in power between governing bodies and clubs, and is a further indication that club football is of a far greater importance to that played on the international stage.

The clubs are right to want to protect their employees and, although the international has become devalued somewhat, many observers would forsake a weakened national team for a strong domestic league.

And although players often move to deny it, the pursuit of glory both domestically and on the continent for their employers serves as a more prominent source of motivation than midweek international friendlies.

This, of course, is not the case for all international sides, but given the competitiveness of the Premier League, English players in particular - and perhaps rightly so - often see their focus away from international football.

It is difficult to blame any player for having reservations about representing England, given the intense pressure to perform in a side often destined for failure.

But, conversely, ridding the calendar of meaningless friendlies may restore an element of pride, and a more structured approach to the schedule with the introduction of double-headers perhaps reduces the risk players fearing injury in seemingly futile fixtures.

The ECA's most recent triumph certainly provides intrigue as to which path they will next take, and how much further they can twist the arm of Uefa in order to see their requests heeded.

The watering down Uefa's rule over the Champions League and Europa League has also been on the agenda of the ECA, and clubs have gained further control of the respective competitions.

Uefa president Michel Platini must now gain an agreement from the ECA before he is able to alter the format of the Champions League or Europa League, and clubs have the right to veto any proposals.

Power shifts between governing bodies and the clubs previously under their jurisdiction have long been apparent in English football and, it would appear, the rest of Europe is now catching up.

Topics:
#Europa League
#Premier League
#UEFA Champions League
Flag article