Coronavirus: Ceferin wary of financial impact, but says football will still be football

May 20 – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admits he has been having sleepless nights due to the effects on football of the Covid-19 pandemic, partly because of the huge amount of money that will be lost, as the organisation pushes ahead to try and get the Champions League and Europa League completed.

While the German Bundesliga resumed over the weekend, it is unclear when, or if, other major top-flight leagues will restart behind closed doors. France has already called off its domestic campaign along with Holland and Belgium

UEFA has postponed its latest executive committee meeting until mid-June and has extended the May 25 deadline by which time member countries were supposed to inform them when their domestic leagues would restart. UEFA needs that information in order to plan the resumption of the Champions League and Europa League and is still planning for August.

Having had to postpone Euro 2020 for a year Ceferin did not under-estimate the cost so far, both financially and psychologically.

“There is so much information (to take in) and so many calendar issues. So many millions and millions, dozens of millions of dollars, that we will lose,” Ceferin told the Guardian newspaper. “It’s then hard to fall asleep at night. You would be quite irresponsible if you could fall asleep immediately.”

Despite having been forced to postpone Euro 2020 for a year, Ceferin is nevertheless trying to stay as optimistic as possible.

“The situation for UEFA is not that alarming, we’re not in a dangerous situation, but we still care about the clubs and the leagues and the stakeholders so it is a lot of work.”

“It’s a new experience and when we get rid of this bloody virus things will go back to normal. Football didn’t change after the second world war, or first world war, and it will not change because of a virus either. People have said many times that the world will not be the same after … this might be true, but my point of view is why not think that the world will be better after this virus? Why not think that we will be smarter, or finally understand how fragile we are, how unprotected we are towards nature? So, there are always lessons to be learned”

Ceferin conceded that because of the toll on clubs, Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations could be adapted to the “new times”.

“If they don’t follow the rules they will always be sanctioned, but of course we’re thinking about how we can improve our regulations.”

“This will not happen very soon but we’re thinking of improving (FFP), modernising it and doing something more about the competitive balance. We’re also considering some sort of ‘luxury tax’, if it’s possible. There are many ideas but trust me, during these difficult times we have stopped thinking more or less about changes that will happen in the future.”

Ceferin has made his position clear several times on the expansion of FIFA’s Club World Cup and took the opportunity to have another dig at his FIFA counterpart, Gianni Infantino, who recently floated the idea of football “taking a step back” to offset the impact of Covid-19.

“I tried to understand what he meant with that, but for sure it’s strange that on the one hand you say you [want to] reduce football and on the other hand you propose a new competition called the Club World Cup.” said Ceferin. “Is that reducing the amount of football?”

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