Fifa, union sign accord

BARCELONA - Under pressure from European clubs and national governments over player rights and match-fixing scandals, Fifa signed an accord with the worldwide players' union yesterday to work together to resolve major issues in the sport.

The "memorandum of understanding" was signed by Fifa president Sepp Blatter and FIFPro chief Philippe Piat at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium.

The two sides promised to resolve transfer disputes more quickly, work together to fight doping, coordinate the international match calendar and do more to combat racism.

"Today is a historic day - this signing is of formidable importance," Blatter said. "In the pyramid of football we easily forget players are at the base and without the players, we wouldn't have clubs, leagues and so on."

Fifa has come under fire from clubs demanding compensation for players injured while on international duty.

The governing body is awaiting a decision by the European Court of Justice on whether it will have to pay $775 000 (about R5 million) in compensation to Belgian club Charleroi, whose midfielder Abdelmajid Oulmers was out for eight months after being injured while playing for Morocco in November 2004.

The G-14 group of major European clubs is backing Charleroi and has supported a similar case involving French club Lyon. - Sapa-AP