The 29th European Club Association (ECA) General Assembly saw over 300 members and guests gather on March 27/28, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary.
Across two days of working groups, sub-division meetings and full plenary sessions, members engaged in detailed discussions on a wide range of policy matters relevant to European football including UEFA Club Competitions revenue distribution, the International Match Calendar, club football’s environmental and social agenda, women’s football and more.
Address by the ECA Chairman
In his keynote address, ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi encouraged the football community to look to the long-term horizon as ECA sets out its structure and strategy for the next cycle. He outlined bold new plans for financial prosperity and distribution, landmark governance and membership reforms, and strengthened institutional relationships for the benefit of the entire football ecosystem.
Chairman Al-Khelaïfi concluded: “Remember that you – our clubs – are the beating heart of football. Without the clubs and our players, a ball can’t be kicked. Also remember that football is global and our players shape the global game. The ECA of the future will not only have weight in Europe – we will have weight in the world. We have only uncovered the surface of what we can achieve as an organisation. We should be so excited for our next chapter.”
Major governance and membership reforms unanimously approved
The General Assembly provided the setting for members to approve unanimously major internal governance reforms that will drive more democracy, participation, diversity and inclusion than ever before. These reforms will see ECA’s membership grow from around 240 to over 330 full members, with the ECA Network also expanding to take ECA towards a family of 500 men’s and women’s clubs. The reforms include a dedicated path for clubs to qualify for full membership via the performance of their women’s team for the first time.
The number of members eligible for Board seats will increase by over three times, with the addition of more Board seats dedicated to independent directors, including female independent directors. In addition, each ECA subdivision will now be required to have at least one female representative at the Board. And, for the first time, dedicated Board seats for women’s clubs will be established.
A new Executive Committee, under the supervision of the Board, will be established to act as an agile, operational and efficient body to advance ECA’s key strategic programmes.
ECA CEO Charlie Marshall said: “I’m delighted that these internal governance reforms were unanimously approved by our members here at the General Assembly in Budapest. They represent a hugely significant milestone in ECA’s development. This massive increase in clubs in the ECA family alongside progressive structural reforms, with important targeted diversity components, means we are becoming more representative, more inclusive and more efficient. As we look ahead to the next 15 years and beyond, we are evolving as an institution to ensure that we are able to continue serving and representing European clubs of all sizes.”
ECA signs renewed Memorandum of Understanding with FIFA
ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi and FIFA President Gianni Infantino signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding between their two organisations reinforcing the relationship between FIFA, as the governing body of football worldwide and ECA, as the sole body representing the interest of men’s and women’s European clubs. This new, long-term agreement not only recognises the central role of clubs in football globally, but also ensures that they are properly represented in decision-making around issues which affect them. It will enable ECA and FIFA to build on their close collaboration, which has existed since 2015 when the MoU was first established, until 2030, bringing long-term stability to the national and club game.
ECA welcomes high-level guests from football and beyond
Hosted by well-known sports presenter Reshmin Chowdhury, the General Assembly also saw addresses from a number of inspiring and expert figures from football and beyond, as ECA looks to take on board the learnings and experiences from influential leaders from the business, sporting and public policy sectors.
Keynote speeches and presentations were delivered by:
- Hungarian Minister of Sport Ádám Schmidt
- UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin
- FIFA President Gianni Infantino
- IOC President Thomas Bach
- Co-Chair of Sports Working Group at the European Parliament, Tomasz Frankowski MEP
- IFAB Technical Director David Elleray
- Oakland A’s Senior Adviser Billy Beane
- A panel on latest on-pitch trends with Anouk Hoogendijk, Patrick Kluivert and John Terry