Uefa chief calls on lawmakers to help make football fairer

The Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has challenged European lawmakers to help make football fairer financially.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin. Picture: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin. Picture: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

In a speech to leaders of Europe’s 55 national bodies, Ceferin cited German Chancellor Angela Merkel among politicians who have criticised the sport after record spending by clubs over the summer.

“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.

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“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.

The issue was thrown into sharp focus earlier this month when Paris Saint-Germain beat Celtic 5-0 in a group stage match. PSG recently spent a world record £196 million to sign Neymar from Bacelona.

“We are not naive to think Maribor can beat Real Madrid next year,” said Ceferin, who claimed business laws enforced by the European Union prevent Uefa slowing down a widening gap between richer clubs and the rest by introducing salary caps, luxury tax, enforced squad limits and transfer reform.

“Salary cap is impossible, at least they [the EU] say it is impossible,” Ceferin said, though he hinted in his speech that lawmakers in Brussels were prepared to be flexible.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino told reporters in a briefing that European lawmakers would be “well advised” to listen to a fresh approach from football leaders.

Infantino, a former Uefa general secretary who has experience of working within EU laws, said Fifa’s stakeholder committee - including members drawn from clubs, leagues and players’ unions worldwide - would be asked to discuss ideas for change. The panel next meets on 19 October in Zurich.

Spiraling commission fees to agents also created a problem that Fifa could tackle within its rules.

“It is nothing illegal that has happened but from a perception, image point of view, it does not feel right,” Infantino said.