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UEFA clubs ‘consider controversial plan to play ‘meaningful’ Champions League matches OUTSIDE Europe’
UEFA’s leading clubs ‘consider controversial plan to play ‘meaningful’ Champions League matches OUTSIDE Europe’… with US, China and Middle East ‘all seen as potential hosts’ for group stage matches
- UEFA’s top clubs discuss plans to play ‘meaningful’ matches outside Europe
- Champions League group stage matches may be played in the US or Asia
- PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi would support the new concept
- The proposals are likely to be angered by devoted club fans in Europe
UEFA’s leading clubs are “considering the idea of playing some Champions League matches in the US, China or the Middle East,” according to a new claim.
This week, UEFA’s executive committee will meet in Hvar, Croatia, before the European Club Association (ECA) General Assembly takes place in Istanbul, Turkey.
These conferences are a way for clubs and executives to explore ways to grow football and increase game-wide revenue in a post-Covid world.
Champions League matches, such as those with 2022 winners Real Madrid, can be rescheduled
Now The Athletic believes there will be serious discussions about taking some of the best Champions League matches out of Europe and into other markets.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi – president of the ECA and member of UEFA’s executive committee – supports the plan.
The plan is to give the global fanbase of some of the continent’s biggest clubs easier access to ‘meaningful games’ – with sources telling The Athletic this will primarily concern group stage matches.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi backs the plan for games outside Europe
It’s just a proposal, though – one that would no doubt infuriate fans in Europe, who weren’t afraid to make their voices heard amid the failed European Super League affair.
The collapse of the Super League meant that UEFA gave more power to its leading clubs, and this is what they hope to benefit from these intercontinental talks.
Other options on the table include a four-team “Opening Tournament” playing last season’s Champions League winners, and playing the UEFA Super Cup outside of Europe.
The Champions League moves to a new ‘Swiss style’ with 36 clubs from 2024
The Champions League is currently in the midst of one of its final group stages before moving from the conventional 32-team tournament to a 36-team ‘Swiss style’ from 2024.
Last week, the ECA released a report that found that a third of Chinese football fans and 28% of those in the US were influenced to follow the sport through major competitions.
The report states: ‘This highlights the potential for European clubs and leagues to build on this interest and influence; to increase the availability of European club football to this audience and allow exposure to these events to build further and deeper interest and engagement.”
This week’s ECA summit will also hear from Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who has grown his audience around the world through devices like ‘Drive to Survive’.
PSG chairman Al-Khelaifi, left, sits on UEFA’s executive committee, as well as head of the ECA