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New UEFA boss says Champions League breakaway out of question

Ljubljana/Maribor, 15 October - The new head Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Slovenia's Aleksander Čeferin, has told the dailies Večer and Dnevnik that he would not allow Europe's strongest teams to form a separate, closed league. He also argued against the currently dispersed organisational format of the Euro.

Athens, Greece
Aleksander Čeferin, the new boss of UEFA.
Photo: ANA-MPA/STA

Commenting on the pressure of Europe's top clubs to reform the Champions League, notably by reducing the number of teams participating, and on their breakaway threats, Čeferin said that for him "a closed league is out of the question" and would "start a legal war".

He urged dialogue, saying he had already met Lars-Christer Olsson of the European Professional Football Leagues, which is not happy with the planned 2018 reform the of the UEFA Champions League that would give each of the strongest national leagues four guaranteed places in the joint competition.

A meeting is also planned with the European Club Association, which welcomed the reform, and Čeferin is happy that "dialogue has begun".

"Our problem so far was that nobody talked," he said, explaining that he was trying to explain to both sides that a compromise was necessary. The change also needs to benefit smaller clubs while at the same a larger financial pie is expected, Čeferin said.

Comparing the revenue generated by the US Super Bowl and the Champions League, he argued that Europe's top league still had a lot of room for development.

The new UEFA boss wants European championships to be organised the way they used to be. In 2020 the Euro will be hosted by no fewer than 13 cities and countries.

"Above all, this model is risky to a certain extent. It is not clear what it will bring financially and how the fans will move from Bilbau to Baku or from Copenhagen to Rome," he pointed out, also noting the potential issue of visitor number should some of the host countries not qualify for the tournament.

Čeferin also announced other changes in the two separate interviews, one being the limiting of the number of terms of UEFA officials to two or three.

He told Dnevnik it would probably also make sense to limit the number of foreigners playing in clubs, but stressed that talks would be necessary with the EU, as the Bosman case had proven this to be very slippery ground.

Čeferin also announced the launch of a special department called Protection of the Game, which will fight match fixing and doping, and promote safety at stadiums.

gz/sm
© STA, 2016