The Champions League is ‘the biggest event in sport’, says Ceferin

Q: For Real coach Carlo Ancelotti, the C1 final is the “most important game in world football”. What do you think ?

A: “I think it’s the biggest event in sport in the world (i.e. outside the Olympics and World Cups, editors note). The only problem in Paris is that everyone wants to come, so we had to limit the tickets Some celebrities had the idea to get 15 tickets, we had to refuse that kind of thing.”

Q: After the organization withdrew to Saint Petersburg due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, how did you choose to re-assign the final to Paris?

A: “There are not many places with the right infrastructure, hotels, airports… It occurred to me that Paris could be a good choice, because the city had not hosted the final (2006) for a long time and because it is symbolic that this event is being organized in the capital of the country that currently presides over the Council of the European Union… We contacted the services of President Emmanuel Macron because we wanted the support of the government (… ), and the support was immediate.”

Q: Isn’t it paradoxical to find Real Madrid and Liverpool in the final, two clubs involved in the short-lived dissident Super League project in 2021?

A: “This non-project has been forgotten. I had even forgotten that Liverpool was part of it, it all happened so fast, in two days it was over (most dissident clubs gave up within 48 hours because of the public outcry), Editor’s note Real Madrid deserve to be in the final Believe me or not I really have no preference for who will win the final I think the best team should win and that shows how clean our competition is .”

Q: How do you prevent four or five big clubs from monopolizing the Champions League?

A: “That doesn’t happen, except when Real Madrid won three years in a row (2016 to 2018). We had Villarreal this year, we always have small teams, at least in the semi-finals. But many national championships have had the same winning team for decades. clubs (and qualify for the editors’ C1 note), so it’s hard to point the finger at UEFA.”

Q: Why did you watch the tried and true format of the Champions League, with a mini-championship replacing the group stage in 2024?

A: “It works very well, but why not make it even more interesting? (…) For me, nothing changes with this change of system. It would be easier to do nothing, sit still and enjoy the game But I think it’s a really good format and you’ll see that in the future.”

Q: Do you understand the criticism of Paris SG following the extension of Kylian Mbappe’s contract, with Spanish League president Javier Tebas denouncing the distortion of competition and talking about “insulting football”?

A: “I totally disagree with him. There are too many insults in football anyway, and I think each league should mind its own business. To me, it’s not right for one league to criticize another. know, Real’s offer for MbappĂ© was similar to PSG’s. After that, if it’s (financially) feasible, we’ll have committees to decide on it (…) Things change! You can’t say “I’m a traditional club, “I have to win for life.” Things are changing and everyone who follows the rules is welcome.”

Q: UEFA has banned Russia and Russian clubs from its competitions. What scenario would lead you to lift this ban?

A: “This exclusion has been ordered until further notice. (…) We can only hope that this madness stops as soon as possible and only then can we start thinking about doing something.”

Q: Some UEFA member states, which are highly critical of human rights, have called for a boycott of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (21 November – 18 December). Do you plan to attend?

A: “Of course I’m going, because European teams are playing. (…) I don’t think a boycott is the right solution. A lot has been achieved, as far as I know. A subject for FIFA, which I mainly through the media ken. But for me a boycott is never the right approach.”

Interview by Andy SCOTT and Jean DECOTTE.