ATHENS: Alesander Ceferin has set studying the controversial new Champions League deal a priority as he starts his reign as president of UEFA.
The European football federation’s middle-rank and small nations were furious at the hasty new 2018-21 deal secured a fortnight ago by the big clubs which strengthened their grip on the revenues of the European club competitions.
That anger helped firm up support for the comparatively unknown criminal lawyer from Slovenia in his decisive 42-13 victory over Dutch federation Michael Van Praag at UEFA’s extraordinary election congress in Athens.
At a subsequent press conference Ceferin, who makes his high-profile event ‘debut’ in London next week at the promotional launch of Euro 2020, denounced as “a simple lie” the pre-vote claims that he had been powered to victory by the behind-the-scenes influence of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Ceferin, asked about whether the Champions League deal could be unpicked, said: “It’s first thing i have to deal with.
“We were not informed properly. I still think so. I will have to sit down with all 55 national associations and see what is in the agreement and what we can do in the future about it.
“UEFA is a very strong organisation but it was without leadership for some time and that was a problem dealing with those things. We should show we are the ones who are the governing body. We have to have dialogue with the clubs and I think the situation can be solved.”
Ceferin fired a further warning shot across the big clubs’ bows by saying that financial fair play “should be enforced more strongly because the gap between rich ones and poor ones is wider and wider.”
Controls within the system, promoted by forme president Michel Platini, appeared to have been relaxed over the past 18 months.
The electoral success of Ceferin was a major surprise and had been shrouded with tales about the influence behind the scenes of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Ceferin said: “It was my decision to run for president. When i saw i had so much support it was much easier and for a new face to come to lead UEFA it was the right time because people wanted changes and new faces.
“I was never [operating] behind the scenes. But obviously people trust me and nobody [working only] behind the scenes can have 42 votes from all parts of Europe.
“I have known Gianni Infantiono since I became president of the Slovenia FA in 2011. He was a good general secretary of UEFA.
“Everything else concerning these elections was media imagination and some other people’s imagination. If you wanted to ask whether Gianni Infantino supported me then I hope so but I don’t know anything about it. All the stories about official support are a simple lie.”