KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The European football federation is urging a football boycott by its member associations’ clubs and national teams of Iran and Saudi Arabia while those states do not allow women fans to attend matches.

Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president, followed up an executive committee meeting in his home, Slovene, capital of Ljubljana by explaining the recommendation that all 55 countries cease involvement in countries “which limit stadiums to women”.

He said: “We know that two countries do not allow men and women to watch matches together, we can not punish anyone, but that does not mean we have to be quiet, so our advice to 55 federations and all clubs to ensure that their teams do not play in these countries or against teams from these countries where the basic rights of women are not respected.”

Aleksandr Ceferin . . . head of European federation UEFA

Controversy arose over the staging on January 16 of the Italian Super Cup in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A further storm erupted after a woman burned herself to death in Iran after being arrested and charged for trying to slip, disguised as a man, into a match in the Azadi stadium in Tehran.

Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, sent a delegation of inquiry to Iran to investigate arrangements for fans to attend next month’s World Cup qualifying tie against Cambodia in the capital.

A delegation statement, at the conclusion of its visit, insisted that FIFA expected women to be allowed into all match stadia.

UEFA exco statement:

The UEFA Executive Committee met today in Ljubljana, Slovenia and took decisions covering a wide range of topics.

Nations League: The UEFA Nations League will see a new league structure comprising 16 teams in Leagues A, B and C and 7 teams in League D, as of the 2020/21 edition. The teams are allocated to leagues based on the overall ranking following the 2018/19 inaugural UEFA Nations League.

This change to the format follows a consultation process which involved all of UEFA’s 55 national associations and reflects upon their desire to further minimise the number of friendly matches.

In addition, it enhances sporting fairness as all teams in the same group will play their last match on the same day and at the same time.

The successful concept of the Finals remains untouched, with the four group winners of League A playing each other to determine the UEFA Nations League winners.

The committee furthermore confirmed that the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League draw will take place in Amsterdam on 3 March 2020, same day and same place as the UEFA Congress 2020.

Hosts of UEFA Competitions

The UEFA Executive Committee appointed the hosts for several club and national team competitions as follows:

2021 UEFA Champions League Final – Saint Petersburg

2022 UEFA Champions League Final – Munich

2023 UEFA Champions League Final – London (Wembley)

2021 UEFA Europa League Final – Sevilla (Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán)

2021 UEFA Super Cup – Belfast

UEFA Futsal EURO 2022 – The Netherlands

UEFA Under-17 Championships – Cyprus 2021; Israel 2022

UEFA Under-19 Championships – Romania 2021; Slovakia 2022

UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championships – Faroe Islands 2021; Bosnia-Herzegovina 2022

UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championships – Belarus 2021; Czech Republic 2022

VAR and Goal-Line technology: In another decision, the UEFA Executive Committee decided to implement VAR as from the knock-out stage of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League; at the finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League as from the 2019/20 final onwards; as well as at the final tournament of the 2021 UEFA Women’s EURO, where it will work alongside goal-line technology.

UEFA Europa Conference League: The name of the third UEFA club competition was approved as UEFA Europa Conference League and its commercial concept was also ratified. The new competition, which will start in 2021, will see its matches played on Thursdays with kick-off times at 18.45CET and 21.00CET, similarly to the UEFA Europa League. The new early kick-off time will also be used for the UEFA Champions League matches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as of 2021 replacing the current 18:55 CET kick-off.

Concussion: The Executive Committee welcomed the fact that FIFA took note of UEFA’s official request to change the protocol in case of concussion – which aims at better protecting players’ health – and that the matter will be discussed at the next IFAB meeting.

Competitive balance: The committee discussed a report which studied the impact of the revenues raised by the top five leagues from the other 50 countries in Europe on competitive balance in the game.  The report demonstrates that, in the absence of any solidarity payments going back into the 50 markets, the money taken by the top five leagues is a major contributor to the erosion of competitive balance across Europe.

Draw procedure: The draw procedure for the European Qualifiers play-offs and the procedure for the UEFA EURO 2020 final draw were approved.

Sustainability: UEFA decided, as part of its commitment to sustainability, as well as to celebrate the 60 years of the European Championship, to plant 600,000 trees in the 12 UEFA EURO 2020 host cities.

Match-fixing: UEFA also announced that it will launch a feasibility study to create an independent European agency against match-fixing.

Anti-piracy: A new anti-piracy strategy aiming at protecting the rights of broadcasters was presented to the members of the UEFA Executive Committee.

Women access to stadiums: The Executive Committee will recommend its 55 national associations and all European clubs not to play matches in countries where women have restricted access to stadiums.

Next meeting: The next meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee will take place at the House of European Football, in Nyon, Switzerland on 4 December 2019.