Club competitions serve 'high-level entertainment'

To herald the semi-final draws, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino hailed the quality entertainment offered by the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

Gianni Infantino speaks during the UEFA Europa League semi-final draw
Gianni Infantino speaks during the UEFA Europa League semi-final draw ©Getty Images

UEFA's two major club competitions, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, continue to hit the headlines for many positive reasons – with new goalscoring heights being achieved in the UEFA Champions League.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, speaking at the draws for the semi-finals of the two competitions at the House of European Football in Nyon on Friday, paid tribute to the many qualities being shown on the European club football stage this season, enthralling fans in the stadium and worldwide television audiences.

"We can seriously ask whether we will be witnessing a new UEFA Champions League goalscoring record," said Mr Infantino. "With 351 goals already scored this season, the question is whether the five remaining matches can produce at least five more goals to allow us to pass the figure of 355 – the highest total recorded since the competition adopted its current format.

"If we do," he added, "it will give us statistical evidence that we are continuing to offer high-level entertainment to the competition's global audience.

"In the UEFA Europa League," the UEFA General Secretary went on, "we have four teams representing four different countries, a testament to the truly European feel of the competition and the perfect opportunity the UEFA Europa League gives to players from all corners of our continent to display their skills and talent on an international level, much to the pleasure of their passionate supporters.

"The [UEFA Europa League] matches yesterday brought their lot of excitement, with extra time and even a penalty shoot-out to know the name of the last qualified team late in the night. None of the four teams involved in today's draw has won the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Cup beforehand, and thus the name of the team that will emerge as a winner in Amsterdam on 15 May will be engraved on the trophy for the first time, adding to the legend and history of the competition."

Mr Infantino passed on the congratulations of UEFA President Michel Platini to the sides qualified for the semi-finals, and described the draw ceremony as "something of a novelty".

"In recent seasons," he explained, "it hasn't been normal procedure to conduct a draw to decide the semi-final pairings in our two major club competitions. And it is a rarity to combine the draws for both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League in one single ceremony.

"We feel that it is positive to stage separate draws for the semi-finals, because they add a bit of spice."