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Q&A: UEFA President Čeferin on moving Euros to 2021

  • Q&A: UEFA President Čeferin on moving Euros to 2021
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Modified 18 Mar 2020, 00:26 IST
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LONDON (AP) — UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin talked to The Associated Press after the decision to postpone the 2020 European Championship until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a transcript of the interview.

ON THE DECISION

“We all know that this terrible virus that is all across Europe made football and all life in Europe quite impossible. We knew we have to stop the competitions. We think that postponing the Euro is the only chance to get a chance to the national leagues and to all the club competitions to finish their competitions. But also that is not sure for now. But we should now think about the health, the (families) of the players and the players. And of course, we have to think about football as a whole, the whole ecosystem of football. That's why we have decided today that we postponed the Euro and we have 100% full support of all 55 national associations, European Leagues, European Club Association and FIFPro.”

ON THE FINANCIAL IMPACT FOR UEFA

“We will start assessing that these days, but it will go to hundreds of millions of euros. I've seen some fake news these days that we were putting a condition that leagues and clubs pay us the amount of 300 million to postpone the Euro. I can say that it's a complete nonsense. We didn't ask them to pay anything as a condition to postpone the Euro.”

ON THE WIDER ECONOMIC IMPACT, WITH UEFA RELYING ON REVENUE FROM BROADCASTERS AND SPONSORS

“I agree the economic situation in Europe and in the world will harm us as well. It's not only about the losses that we will have directly with postponing of the Euro, but it will affect all the economy. And now today, it's time for unity and for deciding. And tomorrow, it's time to start assessing the possible damages. But I still think I'm sure that we all together will finish this and come. We will come out stronger than ever.”

ON KEEPING THE SAME FORMAT OF 12 CITIES IN 12 NATIONS FOR THE EUROS

“The plan is to have the same venues, the same cities, the same stadiums. But if anything gets complicated, then we can as well do it with 11, then nine or less stadiums. But the plan is that everything stays the same.”

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ON THE WOMEN'S EUROS ENGLAND WAS DUE TO HOST IN 2021

“We are thinking of postponing this Women's Euro as well and Under-21 championship as well. We will have to postpone both because I don't think that we should cannibalize the women's Euro with the men's Euro just one month before.”

ON PLAYING THE WOMEN'S EUROS IN 2022

“Yes, that's one of the possibilities, to be honest. One of the most likely to happen.”

ON COMPLETING THE CHAMPIONS AND EUROPA LEAGUE

“It's not up to us. It's up to the experts to see. We have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D. Depends all on the time when we will have a chance to start playing football in Europe again. So it's premature to say anything. We will form a working group, UEFA, European Leagues and European Club Association and we'll start assessing different options. And then let's see how the situation evolves concerning that terrible virus in Europe.”

ON THE LATEST POSSIBLE DATE TO PLAY THE CHAMPIONS AND EUROPA LEAGUE FINALS

“It's very hard to say right now. I don't want to speak before the working group even more meets. They will meet. They will see. They will assess. But at the end, the decision will have to wait until we know exactly when we can start playing again.”

ON COMPLETING DOMESTIC LEAGUES

"I've also saw and heard some again fake news that UEFA will advise leagues to finish the championships now and decide that the winners are the ones who are No. 1 now. I can say that it's not true. Our goal is to finish the leagues and we didn't recommend anything like that to any association or any league.

“Look, for the competition for sure it's the best (to complete), but is it possible, concerning the calendar, which is extremely tight? It's hard to say. Again, I have to say that the working group will have to start working tomorrow and we will see what we come out of. We have different calendars. We have different countries, we have different legislation. So let's see, it's really too early to say anything more concrete.”

ON WHETHER FOOTBALL WILL USE THE PAUSE TO ASSESS THE STRUCTURE OF THE SPORT

“I don't know what will happen concerning the football calendar, but the fact is that what I saw today is that this situation brought us together. This situation showed everyone UEFA, leagues, clubs, other confederations, especially CONMEBOL which I would like to thank because they agreed that if we move the Euro, they move the Copa Libertadores. If anything, then we saw that our ecosystem is fragile, that it's one ecosystem, that we have to act responsibly and that we have to help each other. There is no more time for egoistic ideas. There is no more time for selfishness. So in a way, you're right. This is a reset of the world football.”

ON CONVERSATIONS WITH FIFA

“I spoke to the FIFA president this morning. I told him that it's likely to happen, that the Euro will be postponed to 2021. And of course, it's my opinion and I think it's the only possible solution that the Club World Cup that year (2021) cannot happen.”

ON THE SURVIVAL OF SMALLER CLUBS

“We are all the same in the same situation here and we have to help each other. We will form two working groups tomorrow. One working group will deal with the calendar and the other working group will deal with the financial impact. And when we see what kind of financial impact are we talking about, then we will see how to help. But yes, some clubs, some leagues will have serious problems. But you shouldn't forget about national associations because the sole source of revenue of national associations is mainly UEFA. So it will be a bit hard in a few months or years, but we will step together. And as I said, I'm very optimistic and we will solve the situation.”

ON WHEN NATIONAL TEAMS PLAY AGAIN

“Yes, the (Nations League) final four will will probably be postponed. But again, I don't want to enter the work of the working group, which will start working tomorrow. They have to assess every single competition, not just a men's competition, but women's youth and everything else. So you will have information very soon.”

ON THE TURMOIL

“I would say it is the biggest crisis that football faced in history. But it's also a possibility to, as you said, to reset some things, put some things differently. And honestly speaking, I'm optimistic about the future. We will have to be a bit careful at the beginning, but we are capable of coming back.”

ON FOOTBALL GOING FORWARD

“Football in the future will look the same. Football is the same for ... more than a hundred years. The relations might be different. We all got the lesson in the way. We all understood that everything that we have is not given and that we have to be very careful. We have to be prepared for tough times. We are at UEFA and I think from that perspective, football might be a bit different in the future, but the game is so beautiful that I don't want it to be changed in the future ever.”

ON THE ROLE OF FOOTBALL IN SOCIETY

“The ecosystem is fragile. We have to be very careful because we depend on each other and it also shows how important football is for people, for fans, because we always say football is about players and football is about fans. It's not about us football administrators and we shouldn't think we are the stars of the game.”

ON WHEN LIFE CAN RESUME AS NORMAL

“Look, this is a so-called million-dollar question. Even the expert doctors don't know when this will finish. So it's whatever I say, I might be wrong. But the fact is that we should be optimistic. We shouldn't panic, but we should be responsible and now I think the actions that the European governments are starting to do are good. We have to respect it. We have to stay away from going out and hanging with friends. The more we will respect that, the faster the crisis will finish.”

Published 18 Mar 2020, 00:26 IST
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