FIFA has advocated a reduced match schedule to prevent the status of international tournaments such as the World Cup and the European Championships, becoming diminished.

They also agreed to shorten the 2005-2006 season to allow more time for players to recover before the the 2006 World Cup finals begin in Germany.

If granted approval by FIFA’s Executive Committee, the 2006 Champions League final will now be played on May 17 and not May 24 while the UEFA Cup final will be staged on May 10 and not May 17.

FIFA’s Football Committee and Technical Committee also proposed that all domestic league and cup tournaments be finished by May 14, 2006, to allow players time to recuperate before the start of the World Cup on June 9.

“The view of technical experts in world football is very clear – players, especially internationals, are taking part in too many matches,” said a FIFA statement.

“In some countries, the number of teams competing in the national league has increased or additional competitions have been introduced.

“Fixtures in some countries are spread across several days each week. As a likely consequence of the increase in matches, the performances of top players fell below expectations in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004.

“In order to ensure that players are given the necessary rest periods, the Football Committee and the Technical and Development Committee unanimously supported the proposal to reduce the number of matches played each season.”