Champions League: Clubs have the right to consider “different ideas” to grow the game, ECA chief says

Real Madrid beat Liverpool to win last season’s Champions League

European football chiefs have said they are “exploring different ideas” amid reports some Champions League matches could be played outside Europe.

But the idea was dismissed on Tuesday by Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.

However, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, president of the European Club Association, says clubs are right to explore new growth ideas.

“We didn’t agree on anything,” said Al-Khelaifi. “What we are trying to do is look at different ideas to grow and develop the competition, we have the right to do that.

“Why not examine all possibilities for growth and development and see if it makes sense?”

In a press conference after ECA’s General Assembly held in Turkey, Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar said that it is “not new” to play home games abroad, referring to the Italian Super Cup played in Qatar, China and Saudi Arabia. Arabia, as such an example.

The ECA also welcomed Formula One representatives to the two-day meeting in Turkey and highlighted the success of the Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’ in attracting new viewers to the sport.

It is believed that an initial step would be to move the annual European Super Cup to the US, which would not require FIFA approval as it is a pre-season competition.

“We won’t waste time on this”

Association of European Clubs
Nasser Al-Khelaifi, center, was speaking at the European Club Association (ECA) general meeting in Turkey.

Once again, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus were not at the meeting.

The three clubs are awaiting an interim ruling on their challenge to UEFA, the only body that can sanction a European tournament.

The initial verdict is in December and will determine whether the trio, who refused to back down from the Super League concept that attracted so much criticism in 2020, have any chance of success.

Although Van der Sar said it would be “good” to have the three back within the ECA, Al-Khelaifi was more dismissive.

“We continue to work without them”, said the president of Paris St-Germain. “If they want to come back they’re welcome, but we’re not going to waste time on this.

“We move forward and do what’s best for our clubs. They do what they want. We know it [Super League] it does not exist and will never exist.’

The important thing is that girls can dream too

The ECA is expanding its reach into the women’s game, with Lina Souloukou appointed Olympiakos CEO as diversity representative.

He welcomes the increase in the number of participants and the growth of the sport.

However, Van der Sar, who celebrated England’s rise in national participation after a victorious European Championship, said it was important that smaller countries were not left behind.

“It is important to develop the rest of Europe as well,” he said.

“A lot of clubs (in Europe) are starting to play women’s football. It’s important that girls have the opportunity to dream to play to their full potential.

“It’s great to benefit from winning the Women’s Super League title. Let’s hope other countries are able to follow suit and the pace of development grows everywhere.”