The criticism against Paris Saint-Germain and Kylian Mbappé, who rejected Real Madrid’s offer, “They are not correct,” Aleksander Ceferin told AFP on Friday. UEFA president, defending the emergence of new powers in the Champions League, before the Liverpool-Real Madrid final on Saturday.
Q: For Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, the Champions League final it is the “most important match in world football”. What do you think?
A: “I think it’s the biggest single sporting event in the world (that is, not counting the Olympics and World Cups in football). The only problem in Paris is that teveryone wants to come and we have had to restrict entries. Some celebrities had the idea of receiving fifteen tickets, that kind of thing, which we have had to deny.”
Q: After the withdrawal of the organization to St. Petersburg, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, How did you decide to reattribute the final to Paris?
A: “There are not many places with good infrastructure, hotels, airports… It came to my mind that Paris could be a good choice, since the city has not hosted the final for a long time (2006) and because it is symbolic that this event is organized in the capital of the country that currently chairs the Council of the European Union… We have contacted the services of President Emmanuel Macron since we wanted to have the support of the government (…), and the support was immediate”.
Q:It is not paradoxical to see Real Madrid and Liverpool in the final, two clubs committed in 2021 to the short-lived breakaway project of the Super League?
A: “That non-project is forgotten. I had even forgotten that Liverpool was part of it, everything has been too fast, in two days it was finished (most of the dissident clubs resigned in 48 hours in the face of the general uproar). As for Real Madrid, they deserve to be in the final. Believe me or not, I have no preference on who will win the final. I think the best team has to win and that will show that our competition is fair.”
Q: How to avoid that four or five big clubs monopolize the Champions League?
A: “That doesn’t happen, not counting when Real Madrid won three years in a row (2016 to 2018). We’ve had Villarreal this year, we’ve always had small teams, at least until the semi-finals. But many national championships have the same winners for decades. Therefore, it is difficult to point the finger at UEFA.”
Q: Why the reform of the Champions League, with a mini championship to replace the group stage in 2024?
A: “That works great, but why not make it even more interesting? (…) In my opinion nothing will change with this system change. It would be easier to do nothing, just sit back and enjoy the game. But I think it’s a good format and you will see it in the future.”
Q: Do you understand the criticism leveled at the Paris SG after the Kylian Mbappé’s contract renewal with the president of the Spanish LaLiga Javier Tebas talking about “an insult to football”?
A: “I totally disagree (with him). There are, however, too many insults in football, and I think each league should deal with its own problems. In my opinion it is not right for one league to criticize another. As far as I know, Real Madrid’s offer to Mbappé was similar to PSG’s. Later, if it is viable (economically), we have committees to assess that. (…) Things change! You can’t say: ‘I’m a traditional club, I have to win for life’. Things change and anyone who obeys the rules is welcome.”
Q: UEFA excluded Russia and Russian clubs from its competitions. What scenario would take you to lift that suspension?
A: “That exclusion was pronounced until further notice. (…) we can only hope That this madness ends as soon as possible, and only then can we start to do anything.
Q: Some UEFA member countriesvery critical of the issue of human rights, They called for a boycott of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (November 21-December 18). Do you plan to attend?
A: “I will go, of course, because European teams play. (…) I don’t think boycott is the right solution. As far as I know, many things have been accomplished. It is rather a matter for FIFA, which I know essentially through the media. But in my opinion boycott is never the right approach.”