FIFA set to pay clubs £300m for sending players to World Cup

FIFA will pay clubs almost £300m for sending players to the 2026 World Cup in a huge cash uplift, Sky News understands.

The fund agreed to by FIFA and the European Club Association (ECA) has grown 70% to $355m from the $209m (£170m) clubs split as a reward for developing and releasing players to the 2022 World Cup.

The World Cup is expanding from 32 to 48 teams for the tournament being co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026 and expanding from 64 to 104 matches.

Sources told Sky News an agreement has been reached ahead of the ECA's key annual meeting in Budapest which is due to be attended by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

The ECA is also in talks with FIFA about forming a joint venture to sell the commercial rights to the new 32-team men's Club World Cup that is set to launch in 2025, Sky News has learned.

A partnership on maximising revenue from the new tournament would mark a significant improvement in relations between Europe's top clubs and FIFA.

Europe's elite teams had been opposing FIFA expanding the Club World Cup from a seven-team annual event to a 32-team competition every four years.

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But now clubs are welcoming the new cash stream and gaining more power within FIFA - a blow to the ongoing push for a European Super League.

That breakaway is still being pursued by Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid despite the initial concept collapsing within 48 hours in 2021 after six English clubs were forced to withdraw.