At a press conference following approval of the new post -2024 format for UEFA club competitions, President Aleksander Čeferin spoke out strongly against the notion of a 'European Super League'.
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'It is not just the football community. All of society and governments are united'
"I cannot stress more strongly at this moment that UEFA and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposals we have seen from a select few clubs in Europe that are fuelled by greed above all else.
"Not only the football world is united. Society is united. Governments are united. We are all united against this nonsense of a project. We have the English FA, the English Football Association and the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and La Liga, and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A, but also FIFA, all our 55 national associations, unanimous in our opposition to these cynical plans that are completely against what football should be... I would like to thank especially UK prime minister (Boris) Johnson, the President of France (Emmanuel) Macron, the European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, and all the leaders around Europe who respect our fans, our culture and values that are not only football values but European values too.
"This idea is a spit in the face of all football lovers and of society as a whole. We will not allow them to take it away from us."
'We urge everyone to stand tall with us, as we do everything in our power to ensure this never ends up in fruition'
"Our game has become the greatest sport in the world based on open competition, integrity and sporting merit. We cannot and will not allow that to change. Never, ever. We urge everyone from the millions of football lovers around the world, the world’s media, politicians and football’s governing bodies to stand tall with us, as we do everything in our power to ensure this never ends up in fruition.
"... As previously announced by FIFA and the six Confederations, the players who will play in the teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from playing in the World Cup and the EUROs. They will not be able to represent their national teams at any matches."
'Whoever respects fans, will step out immediately'
"I have deep respect for those players, coaches and football administrators who clearly say no to this greedy idea, that would kill football forever. Football is about players and fans. It’s not about football administrators, it’s not about owners from God know where. It’s part of our culture and it would be a huge step for football, sports and society, if a club said, ‘We made a mistake, we are ready to change, we respect our fans.’
"I can’t understand how you can see your fans protesting and you don’t care. You are full of money anyway, you’re not poor, but you want more and more and more. I’ve had enough of (hearing) football clubs are assets. They are part of our history, and we have to respect it.
"It’s not about me, it’s not about the profits of UEFA because we don’t have profits. We always redistribute money around Europe. It’s not about that, but with them, it’s only about that. I could understand that some were pushed, pressured, that they didn’t know what to do and they signed. There is still time to step back and say we understood what it means for football, for our society. Who-ever respects fans, will step out immediately."
'New format retains the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification'
"I wholeheartedly believe that the changes we announce (today) are exactly the required next step for European football’s evolution. They are exciting and, at their heart, they retain the values of the game that we all love. The reforms preserve the value and importance of the domestic game by retaining the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification. This should and will not ever change.
"This evolved format will still keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the UEFA Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch. It will enable long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football, not just a tiny, self-selected cartel."
"These changes and the support structure we are implementing reflect what our sport is all about. The new format preserves open competition in Europe, it recognises the importance of domestic football and, crucially, the world’s leading elite competitions remain a driving force that support the entire structure of European football."
'I want to emphasise what many fans don’t know. UEFA distributes close to 90% of all its revenue back into the game'
"We will be introducing a new support structure based on a financial model that boosts revenues for participants and, importantly, sees solidarity payments increase as well… driving a positive impact across the European game right down to grassroots.
"I want to emphasise today what many of the fans don’t know. UEFA distributes close to 90% of all its revenues back into the game – not to the professional zone. We finance youth football, we finance grassroots football, we finance women’s football. We have a Children’s Foundation that has great charity projects. So, whoever thinks the Super League is about money and UEFA is about money as well, they are not right. The Super League is only about money, money of the dozen. I don’t want to call them the 'Dirty Dozen'. But UEFA is about developing football and it’s about financing what should be financed to ensure that our football, our culture survives."
'Principles cannot change, and solidarity is something that stays forever'
"The European game is the greatest success story of modern sport. There is a reason why. We are constantly adapting the European competition to ensure it’s more and more interesting, more and more modern. But the principles cannot change, and solidarity is something that stays forever.
"For some people, solidarity, unity do not exist. The only thing that exists is their pockets… The way that the (12 clubs) acted was terribly wrong. We all know that. Everyone knew what (the post-2024 club competition format) looks like. We negotiated with 247 clubs, with the leagues, with the national associations. Then, when you come to the solutions, somebody comes along with something completely ‘phantomatic’. It’s a strange way of negotiating."