The European Football Association (UEFA) is heading Monday, during a meeting of its Executive Committee, to formalize the reforms related to the Champions League competition, in addition to deciding on the host cities for the European Cup next summer, with the possibility of some of them being excluded from the continental tournament due to restrictions of the Corona virus.
Last month, plans to reform the Champions League, which would be implemented from 2024, were to be approved, but the matter was postponed after the European Club Association decided it was not “in a position to officially approve the major changes.”
According to sources close to the negotiations, some of the major clubs wanted greater control over Wifa Club Competitions, the subsidiary that advises the continental association on commercial matters. Amid the talk about an attempt to take over the reins of power by some clubs, and with the threat of the possibility of launching the separatist Super League by some of the major clubs, there is hope that the solution is now achieved. On Friday, the European Union confirmed that reforms were high on the agenda of the scheduled meeting in the Swiss city of Montreux on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva.
The group stage in the European Champions League will be completely overhauled, with the number of clubs increasing from 32 to 36 and the introduction of the so-called “Swiss system” inspired by the game of chess, where the clubs play 10 matches in the group stage instead of the current six system. Which divides the clubs into eight groups of four teams. According to the new system, the clubs play a “mini-championship” in one group, with each team playing 10 matches.
It is expected that one of the four new seats will be awarded to the French League, while one of the main points of controversy will be how to decide on the other three seats. The European Club Association prefers to grant new seats to champions from other leagues, while there is also a tendency to grant them to clubs according to their classification in the Confederation, which would prefer clubs that have a history in Europe but are suffering locally, and this applies now to clubs such as Arsenal and Liverpool, the English and Russia. Dortmund is threatening to miss the next edition of the continental championship. The overarching goal of the reforms is to increase the return on transfer rights for competition matches to satisfy the money-hungry major European clubs, and to end the threat of the possibility of launching the separatist Super League. Meanwhile, the European Union needs to finalize its plans for next summer’s European Cup finals in 12 cities.
After the coronavirus caused it to be postponed for a year, the European Cup 2020 finals are scheduled to open from the Olympic Stadium in Rome on June 11.
The basic plan was for the sixtieth anniversary of the launch of the continental championship to be celebrated in 12 cities and 12 different countries. But even after a one-year postponement, the repercussions of the Corona virus still cast a shadow over the continental championship due to travel restrictions and the ban on public attendance in the stands. The Confederation waited until the middle of this week to take the decision of its “complete” dependence on Rome to be among the host cities for the European Cup finals, after the Italian capital gave guarantees that “at least 25%” of the crowd would attend the Olympic stadium, which was threatened with losing hosting Its four matches in the continental championship.
“The authorities have ensured that at least 25% of the capacity of the stadium will be filled,” UEFA said, adding: As a result, UEFA considers that Roma are completely confirmed as the host of the tournament. And he continued: Fans who have tickets for matches in Rome should know that no exceptions will be granted to any travel restrictions that will be applied at that time, for people coming from outside Italy. Despite the health situation due to the “Covid-19” virus, the European Commission imposed the mass attendance of the European Cup matches, a condition not to withdraw the organization of matches from the cities concerned with hosting. So far, there are three of the 12 cities that were initially selected, threatening to withdraw the organization for not providing assurances of the presence of fans in the stadiums, namely Bilbao (Spain), Dublin (Ireland) and Munich (Germany), and a final decision in this regard is expected at the Monday meeting.
Munich, Bilbao and Dublin were granted until Monday to provide the European Union with additional information on its plans for attendance. In the event that none of the three cities can provide guarantees, then UEFA can transfer the matches to the other host cities. The president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, confirmed that he would do everything possible from a human point of view to ensure Spain retained the four scheduled matches on its soil. And if the European Union decides that the Basque city of Bilbao cannot host the matches, Rubiales will propose an alternative option: Seville, Andalusia. It is true that there are serious difficulties in Bilbao, he said. With that in mind, UEFA is the one that should decide.
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