UEFA boss wants leveller playing field

September 21, 2017
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin speaks during the press conference after the meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee at the UEFA headquarters, in Nyon, Switzerland, yesterday.

GENEVA (AP):

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin challenged European lawmakers yesterday to help make the business of football fairer.

In a speech to leaders of Europe's 55 national bodies, Ceferin cited German Chancellor Angela Merkel among politicians who have criticised the sport's finances after a record off-season spending by wealthy clubs.

"To all European politicians, let me say that we cannot agree more," the UEFA president said. "But I cannot say that you have done much to help us set things straight so far.

"We are imaginative and committed, and we are just waiting for the green light from those who publicly condemn the current situation but have yet to enable us to put it right," Ceferin said at UEFA's special congress in Geneva.

UEFA has set "competitive balance" among teams in its competitions as a priority. The Champions League is now seen as weighted too heavily toward the top-five wealthiest national leagues who dominate the entry lists and prize-money shares.

"We are not naive to think Maribor can beat Real Madrid next year," Ceferin, a lawyer from Slovenia, said later at a news conference at UEFA headquarters in nearby Nyon.

Still, labour and business laws enforced by the European Union prevent many of the "whole arsenal of concrete measures" that Ceferin identified as potential policies to slow down a widening gap between richer clubs and the rest.

They included salary caps, luxury tax, enforced squad limits, transfer reform, a clearing house to control money flows, limiting player-agent fees, solidarity tax on transfers to fund women's soccer, limiting loans of players, and preventing ownership of more than one club.

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