International Soccer

Tuesday Kickoff: UEFA agrees to cut fixture dates, Gomez set to start and more

Friendly (Getty Images)

European clubs and UEFA have come to an agreement that would alter the international calendar significantly.

Under the new agreement, which has yet to be approved by FIFA, the number of international matches would be reduced from 12 a year to an average of nine per year over the course of a two-year period. The nine-match figure is a compromise after clubs were hoping to cut the current number in half to have only six fixture dates per year. 

Among the fixture dates that would be cut under the new agreement would be one-game fixture windows, such as the one happening this week, and the one in August, which has long been scrutinized for its timing.

Another development to come out of the European Club Association general assembly is that starting with Euro 2012, UEFA will take out insurance to cover the salary of players hurt on international duty while increasing payment to clubs for releasing their players for the competition. 

Here are a few more stories from around the soccer world:


Herculez Gomez is in line for an upward tick in playing time after an injury to one of Santos Laguna's starting forwards.

Darwin Quintero has a left leg injury and has been ruled out for the next 2-to-3 weeks, paving the way for Gomez to claim his spot in the starting lineup. Gomez is coming off his most active game for his new club this season, playing 45 minutes, scoring a goal but also missing a late penalty kick in a 2-1 loss in to Chivas de Guadalajara over the weekend.

The injury also means that Gomez could potentially be starting for both legs of Santos Laguna's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal tie with the Seattle Sounders, including the March 7 first leg in Seattle.


Mike Grella's odyssey through the lower tiers of English soccer continues.

The former Duke University standout signed with Bury FC of League One, his latest stop on the search for club stability. Grella, who had his deal with League One side Brentford terminated a couple of weeks ago by mutual consent, will be with the Shakers through the end of the season. It will be the American forward's third club in the last two years, after moving from Leeds United to Brentford last year. He had also had loan spells with Carlisle United and Swindon Town over the last two years. 

Grella will be eligible to debut for his new club on Tuesday, when Bury hosts Hartlepool United.


Aston Villa striker Darren Bent's injured ankle may cost him the rest of the Premier League season and a place in England's squad for Euro 2012.

Bent tore ligaments in his left ankle and has been ruled out for the next three months, a timetable that would have him cleared to play soon before the start of the European championship.

England was already shorthanded at striker for the tournament, with Wayne Rooney being suspended for the first two matches. Bent's absence likely puts more pressure on up-and-coming strikers Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge to perform on the big stage.


What do you think of the potential changes to the international calendar? Hope Gomez gets a chance to start in the CCL? What's your take on Grella's latest move? Think Bent's injury is a big blow to England's chances this summer? 

Share your thoughts below.

  • Taylor

    i really don’t like that new FIFA rule, clubs have way too much power if you ask me. i understand that they are the ones paying players’ salaries and all, but 9 games a year is just way too little and i would hate to be a national team coach and have so little time to establish a culture with your team. how are you supposed to do that?


  • 99

    those were my thoughts too. i get the “one off” date concerns. however, it seems like it would be very difficult to establish a rapport/culture with only 9 dates.

    does anyone know how much total time players spend in natl camps in europe- beyond just match dates?


  • PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo

    Agreed. It is highly likely that my passion for the sport will diminish without games to cheer on the U.S.


  • The Imperative Voice

    Actually, your comment speaks to my concerns. My reading of the article was that UEFA and its constituent clubs had reached an agreement where the international dates would shrink and UEFA would insure the players involved, and up payments to teams with callups.

    I understand this to only apply to Europe but even if the rest of the world was not at the table, some may read it as applying to them as well — as you did — and eventually “as goes Europe so goes the rest” and we all are down to 9 dates.

    Before people say, that can’t happen, this already suggests they are trying to tell CAF when to hold the ACN, as though the hemispheres and seasons aren’t opposed. There’s a hint of power play underneath.


  • RK

    I’m not surprised that it is only a two-year deal, though, considering the time frame before the World Cup.

    I really don’t care for friendlies. I find the random ones unwatchable (Spain vs. Vz…who cares?), and get frustrated watching the US because I know they aren’t “real” games with something on the line.


  • The Imperative Voice

    When you’re being loaned and bounced from team to team midseason in the third division, it’s time to consider coming back to MLS. Sure a former US U18 and U20 has ambitions beyond lower division soccer tourism….it can’t be paying better than here at this point.


  • PD

    speaking of too much power, perhaps this is why Gomez isn’t getting callups?

    Having said that I get the fact that clubs are reticent to have players they invest literally millions of dollars/euros in get whisked away by another entity. BUT I also understand that in many many countries (USA included) the national program is the crown jewel in the development of the soccer culture, which does pay off on the club level.


  • The Imperative Voice

    My comment being that Europe’s dance card is traditionally filled for a Euro cycle and then a World Cup cycle, with time for friendlies only coming with odd number groups and when qualifying is not taking place. It’s different there than here….we have no Gold Cup qualifying for the USA (though it exists for others), so it’s just two tourneys plus the World Cup sequence, everything else is (more or less) friendly, give or take a Confed Cup or Copa America.


  • CSD

    The article doesn’t fully explain if that is total matches or just friendlies. Spain had to play 7 matches to win the World Cup and then not long after that they needed to start qualifying for Euro 2012. If they really wanted a total of 6 international matches that is silly talk.


  • CSD

    Shakira’s Caption for photo:

    “You’re on the frontline
    Everyone’s watching
    You know it’s serious
    We’re getting closer
    This isn’t over”


  • uncfan

    If he isnt useful in League One, why do you assume he would be successful (or wanted) in the MLS?

    My guess is that he can make more money there than here.

    EJ is only getting 100K, and he at least has played a few games in the Championship in the last couple of years.


  • strider

    CSD, you may not be thinking this through. This is not about tournaments, but about fixture dates for qualifying and friendlies. The clubs are just trying to protect their own interests, which is understadable, even if we would like to see more good international matches.


  • Troll

    Ehhhh I dunno. Buddle came back to LA and he’s only making around $150K. I doubt EJ is making more than that.


  • Mike in Missouri

    EJ might have made 250 had he not turned MLS down last summer (I think?). I read 100k as well. But when you have no team at all otherwise, 100k is better than 250k.


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