UEFA’s clubs ‘consider controversial plan to play ‘meaningful’ Champions League games OUT OF Europe’
UEFA’s leading clubs ‘considering controversial plans to play ‘meaningful’ Champions League matches OUTSIDE of Europe’… with US, China and Middle East ‘all considered possible hosts’ for group stage matches
- UEFA’s top clubs will discuss plans to play ‘meaningful’ matches outside Europe
- It could see the Champions League group stage played in the US or Asia
- PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is believed to support the new concept
- The proposals are likely to be frowned upon by devoted club fans based in Europe
UEFA’s leading clubs are ‘considering the idea of playing some Champions League matches in the US, China or the Middle East’, according to a new claim.
This week UEFA’s Executive Committee meets in Hvar, Croatia, before the European Club Association (ECA) General Assembly takes place in Istanbul, Turkey.
These conferences are a way for clubs and managers to explore ways to grow football and increase revenue across the game in a post-Covid world.
Champions League matches, such as those featuring 2022 winners Real Madrid, could be moved
Now The Athletic believes there will be serious discussions about taking some of the Champions League’s best games out of Europe and into other markets.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi – chairman of the ECA and a member of UEFA’s executive committee – backs the plan.
The plan is to give the global fanbase of some of the continent’s biggest clubs easier access to ‘meaningful games’ – with sources telling The Athletic that this initially relates to group stage games.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi backs plan for games outside Europe
It’s just a suggestion though – one that would undoubtedly infuriate fan bases in Europe who weren’t afraid to make their voices heard amid the failed European Super League affair.
The collapse of the Super League meant that UEFA gave more power to its leading clubs, and this is what they hope to exploit with these intercontinental talks.
Other options on the table include a four-team “opening tournament” featuring last season’s Champions League winners and playing the UEFA Super Cup outside Europe.
The Champions League will move to a new “Swiss format” with 36 clubs from 2024
The Champions League is currently in the middle of one of its final group stages before moving from the conventional 32-team tournament to a 36-team “Swiss format” from 2024.
Last week, the ECA released a report which showed that a third of Chinese soccer fans and 28% of those in the United States were influenced to start following the sport by major competitions.
The report said: “This highlights that there are opportunities for European clubs and competitions to build on this interest and influence; to increase the accessibility of European club football to these audiences and allow exposure for these events to continue to build further and deeper interest and commitment.’
This week’s ECA Summit will also hear from Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who has grown his audience around the world through entities such as ‘Drive to Survive’.
PSG president Al-Khelaifi, left, is on UEFA’s executive committee, as well as head of the ECA