By Andrew Warshaw
September 22 – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has reiterated that Russia’s ban from European football after invading Ukraine is unlikely to be lifted any time soon.
Ceferin said at a press conference following UEFA’s Executive Committee meeting in Hvar, Croatia this week that Russia would be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
“The decision for the national team and the clubs about their suspension was a decision until further notice, which means that we are monitoring the situation and until we decide otherwise, this will remain so,” said Ceferin after Russia was withdrawn from the Euro qualifying competition 2024 had been excluded.
“We don’t have to make a decision every time there’s another competition coming up. We all hope that the war will end as soon as possible so that we can have the national team from Russia in our competitions. But the situation is such that we cannot even discuss it.”
What if there was a truce, he was asked.
“I can’t say with certainty that the moment an agreement is signed they will be competitive,” he replied. “What we can do is stand up for peace, and then we hope that the war will end soon, and after that we decide what to do.”
Ceferin has also deflected rumors that UEFA could take Champions League games from Europe.
Media reports have surfaced that UEFA’s Exco were looking for ways to stage some clashes in neutral territories such as USA, China and the Middle East.
“We never talked about it,” Ceferin said. “I would be informed if there were any discussions about playing Champions League games outside of Europe and I don’t know anything about it.”
He also reiterated that there will never again be a multi-venue Euro final like Euro 2020 under his watch, a reason it gives those with mostly home games an unfair advantage.
A pan-European finals was the idea of former UEFA boss Michel Platini, but Ceferin, who never fully embraced the concept after succeeding Platini, made it clear that more than two joint hosts were no starters in the future.
“We are not considering such European Championship tournaments in ten or eleven countries. That was complicated enough,” he said.
Without specifically mentioning finalists Italy and England, who all played their group games on home soil, with England only having to travel once during the final tournament, Ceferin remarked: “For sporting reasons, Switzerland played one game in Rome and then in Baku.”
“Some teams played at home all the time and those who didn’t come and played at home ended up in the final. We don’t like this concept at all. It was the 60th anniversary of EURO, a pan-European friendship. That was the element of the idea.
“I’m not saying that the idea as such was bad, but I have a feeling that EURO should be held in one or two countries if we talk about smaller countries, but it’s very difficult to repeat such an exercise at any time. ”
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