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UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has said European football must remain open to all clubs amid ongoing speculation over a breakaway Super League.
Although the majority of Super League’s founding members pulled out in the face of public and political pressure after a much-criticized launch last April, players like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain committed to the project.
Florentino Perez, who was due to become Super League president, continued to call on Europe’s elite clubs to part ways with UEFA, insisting the breakaway competition was “still alive” in June.
More recently, Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos backed Los Blancos’ president’s stance saying: “It’s [the Super League] should have worked a long time ago”.
But Cerferin, speaking at FPF Football Talks Portugal 2022, underlined his confidence in the existing structure of the continental game.
“Football, of course, will always remain open in our competition. The essence of European football, which is by far the strongest football in the world, is that it is open,” he said.
“What those people who think only the elite play football don’t understand is that even they would be much worse off if they didn’t have everyone competing.
“Last season we saw the sheriff [Tiraspol] of Moldova winning in Madrid against Real Madrid. If my Slovenian team with a budget of two million won against Tottenham, that is the essence of European football. It’s part of our culture. It’s part of our history and it will never change.
“That shouldn’t change and what a lot of people don’t know is that UEFA gives club football 93.5% of all revenue back to clubs, and in total 97% of all revenue goes to clubs. clubs.
“It’s the most important part of football and that’s why we are as successful as we are. I insist and will absolutely insist that the dream stays alive for everyone.”
One of the main motivations for clubs to seek a break from UEFA, besides the ability to regulate their own competition, is to run more profitable competitions against other elite teams.
Despite the demise of the Super League, participants should get their wish when the Champions League introduces four additional group stage matches for each team from the 2024-25 season.
The change has drawn heavy criticism from some, with the busy nature of the football schedule already a major talking point.
While Ceferin acknowledged the challenges created by the schedule, he claimed a “balance” between player welfare and financial viability had been struck, and promised no further reform was planned.
“The schedule is very dense. I have to say it probably seems close to the limit. The fact is that clubs have to stay sustainable,” he added.
“If clubs want to be sustainable, they have to have a certain number or number of matches. Now those who complain are mainly from the big clubs who really play more than the others, but from another point of view they have 25 high level players.
“So the truth here is not black and white. I think we should seriously think about the number of matches, some think two cups is too much. It’s not for UEFA to decide.
“But in principle, from one point of view, clubs say they want matches to generate income so they can say sustainable. From another point of view, some complain about too many matches.
“So we have to find a balance here. I think we’ve found it and we’ve changed the competition after 2024. After that, I don’t see any possibility of changing anything soon.”
Meanwhile, Ceferin also underlined his confidence in the return of the World Cup to Europe in 2030, backing a joint bid by Spain and Portugal.
“I see this as a winning bid. We will do everything we can to help the bid. It’s time for Europe to host the World Cup. Both countries are passionate about football,” he said .
“You smell and feel the football in Spain and Portugal. The infrastructure is excellent.
“So we have plans to help. I think, and I’m sure, there will be the World Cup in 2030 in Spain and Portugal.”