UEFA

"Let all three play the Super League" - UEFA boss Ceferin slams Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus

Aleksander Ceferin has discussed the Super League, FIFA's bi-annual World Cup proposal, and the possibility of a Champions League 'Final Four' format in a series of interviews with European media.

"Let all three play the Super League" - UEFA boss Ceferin slams Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus
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On the occasion of the Champions League final in Porto, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has given an interview to Portuguese newspaper Récord, in which he once again spoke about the fallout over the European Super League (ESL) debacle and also voiced his opposition to FIFA’s “irrational” proposal on a bi-annual World Cup.

"When nine clubs admitted they had made a mistake, I started treating them the same as all the other members of the European football family,” said Ceferin in relation to the nine of the 12 founding members who walked away from the ESL following the unprecedented backlash to the project.

“We always calm down after a while, but it was a shock to all of us,” added the UEFA boss, before recalling the hours following the shock announcement made by the 12 founding members on Sunday, 18 April.

“I was the man who had to speak. We all had the same feeling about what had happened, both the clubs and the leagues,” he said. Asked if he spoke to Andrea Agnelli, Florentino Pérez or Joan Laporta (respective presidents of Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona) after the announcement, Ceferin replied: “No. I received a WhatsApp message from one of them. I didn’t reply”. He then refused a request by Récord to divulge the content of the message.

Ceferin on bi-annual World Cup proposal

The UEFA president was also asked about FIFA’s recent proposal on making the World Cup a bi-annual event, saying that such a scenario was “impossible”.

"It is impossible; it’s an irrational idea. The next World Cup, after 2022, is in ‘26. In ‘28, there is the Euro Cup. If there is a World Cup in 2028, European teams won't play it. South Americans have the Copa America, they won't play the World Cup. Is it still a World Cup?”

He continued: “It's an incredibly irrational idea, I don't know why we need this. If you want to do feasibility studies and have the money to pay for it, go ahead. But with this schedule it is impossible. Imagine what it is like for players to have a one-month tournament every year. They have more injuries today because they are always playing, with a completely full calendar. It is a political thought, but it has no grounding in reality.”

Ceferin: I am in favour of Champions League 'Final Four’

The UEFA president also gave an interview to French newspaper L'Équipe, where he spoke of his support for the establishment of a Champions League 'Final Four' format from 2024.

“I am in favor of a 'Final Four' in the Champions League. It could be great and also effective in terms of income if done right. But everyone has to give their point of view. We are discussing it, but it hasn’t been decided," he explained.

"We liked the 'Final 8' last year in Portugal, but a 'Final 8' takes two weeks and that's too much. A 'Final Four' from 2024 has pros and cons. On the one hand, it could be a fantastic event with a week of football complemented by other events, such as concerts. But we lose games, especially at home, for the clubs.”

Ceferin blasts Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus

In another interview with Sky Italia, Ceferin spoke directly about Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus and was harshly critical of the only three clubs that remain committed to the ESL following the withdrawal of the other nine founding members.

“They cannot paralyze football, only themselves. It is strange to read the press releases from these three clubs against hundreds of other clubs, where they believe that their footballing opinion is correct. It is odd to read their statements, they think that anything can be done with money, but that's not the case,” he said.

“The correct approach is dialogue, saying if they want to come back or not. Do they want to play the Super League? Let them do it, let all three play,” he added.

Asked about the disciplinary proceedings against the three clubs, Ceferin replied: “Our disciplinary committee is independent. I cannot comment on anything. What surprises me is that they are still in the Super League and then they send me a letter saying they want to play in the Champions League. It’s difficult to understand what they want to do. There is no dialogue because I know they limit themselves to sending letters to UEFA and also to the nine clubs that left the Super League.”