UEFA must make official this Monday the new Champions format after 2024, in what will be the most radical change from its star competition to curb the rumors of a private Super League that would mean fierce competition, and also confirm the latest details of the Eurocup.
Expansion from 32 to 36 computers, disappearance of the eight groups of the first phase for a mini-championship whose development is similar to that of chess tournaments, a hundred more games per season: the main ingredients of the reform of the ‘Champions’ have been known for months.
But the executive committee of the highest European football body must specify the last details, which may be the subject of dispute between the great clubs of the continent and the leagues, which wish to preserve the sporting meritocracy.
It is already known that one of the four new teams that will participate in the future Champions League will be from the french league, a championship that ranks fifth in the UEFA coefficient, but it is not known how the other three will be distributed.
For the heir to the European Cup, the highest continental tournament created in 1955, the most spectacular change will be the disappearance of the first phase with eight groups of four teams each facing each other.
This will put an end to the “death groups” as well as the merciful raffles: the big clubs in Europe will now be divided according to the so-called ‘Swiss system’, inspired by chess and unprecedented in football.
Starting in 2024, each team will play 10 games against 10 different opponents, a mini-championship synonymous with greater media exposure and, therefore, more income from television rights, before playing a phase a direct elimination.
The agreement of the future Champions seeks to bury for a few years the rumors about the eventual creation of a closed Super League, in which they would only play the big european clubs, a debate that has divided continental football for a few months. This threat of secession allows the big clubs to pressure UEFA to defend their interests.
This Sunday, several media speculated on a possible announcement about that Super League and UEFA reacted strongly in a statement, threatening to exclude those clubs of any competition “at national, European or world level” and with depriving its players of being able to represent their world teams.
Beyond the reform of the Champions League, another more urgent issue is on the table: to finally specify the organization of Euro 2020, already postponed one year and rescheduled from June 11 to July 11.
Less than two months before the tournament, no one knows if the continental championship of national teams It will be played in 12 cities in as many countries, just as former UEFA president Michel Platini imagined.
This logistical challenge, even before the current health crisis, has become a headache since UEFA has required the presence of the public in each stadium, under the threat of remove those cities from the organization that do not meet this requirement.
The body chaired by the Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin agreed a final deadline to Dublin, Bilbao and Munich, the cities that have more problems to receive spectators, promising a “final decision” this Monday on the matches already scheduled. The president of the Spanish Federation, Luis Rubiales, Seville ratified the idea on Friday as an eventual alternative to Bilbao.
The other cities have pledged to accommodate spectators to varying degrees: Budapest at 100%, Saint Petersburg and Baku at 50%, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Glasgow and Copenhagen with capacities of between “25% and 33%”. Rome, which was threatened, guaranteed “at least 25% of the public” and will receive, among others, the opening match Italy-Turkey.
The city of London, which must host seven games – including the semifinals and the final -, has presented a plan to have “a minimum of 25%” of the capacity in the three games it will host in the group stage and is confident of having “a superior capacity” for the final rounds of the tournament.
The tournament is announced full of obstacles for fans who want to follow their teams, as only Azerbaijan, Russia and Hungary have announced that they will exempt fans from the restrictions of entry and quarantine.
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