Europe’s leading clubs have agreed to push for compensation payments when their players are called up for international tournaments and stressed their total opposition to FIFA’s Club World Championship.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the 102-strong European Club Forum, told reporters: “All the clubs are of the opinion that it is fair to ask confederations, including UEFA and FIFA, to compensate clubs for the release of players for international tournaments.

“At the same time the clubs will continue to give their full support to national team football, but we hope that it will be possible to find a practical solution which is fair to all parties.”

The clubs also rejected proposals to re-launch the Club World Championship. Initially held in 2000, the competiton was cancelled in 2003 but a FIFA want to stage it again in 2005.

The clubs statedthat they agreed to a reduction in Champions League matches this season to ease the workload on their players and to re-introduce the World Championship would be counter-productive.

“It would be incoherent to support any additional tournament (so we have) unanimously agreed to reject, for a variety of reasons, any proposal for a FIFA Club World Championship,” read the statement.

Plans to impose salary caps on Europe’s top clubs were also dismissed while the revamped UEFA Cup raiised certain questions. .

‘Although there was a unanimous endorsement of the new format and the need to re-brand the competition, there was no unanimity on marketing aspects,” the statement explained.

“A compromise proposal is to implement the new format as from the 2004-05 season and to review results over a two-year period while carrying out further investigation into the viability of adopting a centralised marketing approach.”

The new format for the UEFA Cup will feature a first round knock-out phase of 80 teams, followed by a group phase involving 40 teams in eight groups of five. The leading three from each group will then be joined by eight teams from the UEFA Champions League for the final knockout phase.