- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

LIMASSOL, CYPRUS (AP) - European soccer’s governing body will ask FIFA to scrap the August dates for exhibition games on the international calendar, two officials with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday.

The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an announcement by UEFA President Michel Platini is not expected until Thursday.

Europe’s 53 national federations agreed to the proposal in a meeting to discuss changes to the soccer calendar, which dictates when clubs must release players for international duty. European clubs have pressed UEFA and FIFA to drop August internationals, describing them as “nonsense” matches that disrupt training for the season.

National coaches, including France’s Laurent Blanc, have also spoken out against the games, which allow squads barely 48 hours for preparations.

UEFA members concluded a two-day strategy session Wednesday with the international calendar and structure of national team competitions at top of their agenda.

However, the officials told the AP that federations want to maintain the number of days players must report to national teams each year.

UEFA will propose playing 18 matches, in nine double-header fixture blocks, over each two-year cycle of qualification matches for a World Cup or European Championship, the officials said.

FIFA is also consulting world soccer’s five other continental bodies before agreeing to a calendar of international match dates from 2015-2018. FIFA, however, can choose to remove August slots from the current schedule before it expires in 2014.

In another matter, the Swiss club FC Sion was criticized for taking soccer authorities to court after the team was expelled from the Europa League.

UEFA said “any member of the football family which refuses to accept the rules of the competition should not participate in it.” Sion has flouted FIFA statutes by seeking reinstatement in court.

UEFA expelled Sion because it beat Scotland’s Celtic in the playoff round using players signed in breach of a FIFA transfer ban. Sion and UEFA meet in a Swiss court next Tuesday, two days before Celtic is to play its second group stage match.

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AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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