Key quotes: UEFA president assesses Champions League return

Find out what president Aleksander Čeferin had to say as he reflected on the return of UEFA’s club competitions, including the successful conclusion of the 2019/20 edition of the Champions League in Lisbon.

The full interview with Aleksander Čeferin can be seen here
The full interview with Aleksander Čeferin can be seen here

Aleksander Čeferin reflected on the return of UEFA’s club competitions, including the successful conclusion of the 2019/20 edition of the Champions League in Lisbon, this week.

As well as the Champions League, UEFA and the host associations also organised a successful conclusion to the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Youth League, with the UEFA Women’s Champions League to be concluded this weekend in Spain.

To ensure a safe resumption of action, UEFA conducted more than 12,000 COVID-19 tests across the four venues, with more than 40 matches due to be played between 5 August and the Women’s Champions League final on 30 August.

On an intense period of organisation and action

“It was, first of all, extremely hectic these days, these months. We haven’t slept much. But in the end, it’s very important to do it, not just because of the financial part, which would hit the clubs hard, but also to show that football hasn’t stopped.

“Where people are desperate, they need sports, especially football. So, I’m glad that it looks like we will do it well.”

Aleksander Čeferin on UEFA's collaboration in Portugal
Aleksander Čeferin on UEFA's collaboration in Portugal

On UEFA’s close collaboration with key stakeholders to organise the Champions League finals in Portugal

“Without that teamwork, it could never happen. Here in Portugal, we had fantastic cooperation with the Federation and, I must say, great, great cooperation with the Portuguese government.

“I think we will come back in normal times as well, because they deserve at least that chance, because they showed extreme competence, friendliness, and I think it’s also a sign that Portugal is a great country to travel to.”

On UEFA’s successful and simultaneous coordination of four different competitions

“It’s impossible to explain, but we are the only organisation in the world that organises four international events at the same time in four different countries. It’s not just the only sports organisation, but the only organisation at all.

“It was not easy. We probably had some luck as well, but you have to know that they are not just four tournaments. We have club qualifiers for European competition, we start national team competition at the beginning of September, so [we have] challenging times ahead as well.

“But, for now, I think if you are bold enough and brave enough, you’ll succeed in the end, and it looks like our decision in the end was the right one.”

UEFA organised competitions in four countries simultaneously
UEFA organised competitions in four countries simultaneously

On the importance of delivering competitions safely

“That was crucial, and that’s the main risk, because if [we had] a problem on the health side, we would be buried. So, that was the main risk, because everybody is watching us; it’s the only event.

“There were many doubts, many long nights, many discussions, many different opinions, but in the end, it looks like it’s going the right way. But there are still many things to do and many things ahead.”

On the quality of football

“It was a completely different tournament because there was just one match. If one scored, the other team had to push to score as well. I think it was very, very interesting. I don’t think the players are just professional. They really want to win the biggest football competition in the world, so they played like the fans were in the stadium.”

Find out some of the key stats relating to this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign.

Take a look at the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League in numbers.