UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin told the UEFA Extraordinary Congress that it is essential to prevent a growing gap between large and small in European football - "and that we keep the dream alive for all.”
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UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin says that competitive balance in football must be guaranteed to protect what he called “the magic of the game”.
In his address to the 13th Extraordinary UEFA Congress in Geneva on Wednesday, Mr Čeferin said that every effort must be made to ensure that the gap between large and small in the European game did not become insurmountable.
The UEFA President told delegates from UEFA's 55 member associations that it was imperative “to ensure that smaller teams can continue to compete in the big league, and that we keep the dream alive for all.”
“This is what makes football so special; this is the magic of football. We must protect it before it’s too late - but we must be allowed to do so.”
Mr Čeferin called for European and national legislation to help football create measures to make the game fairer and better regulated, and improve its ethics and solidarity.
“Salary caps, luxury tax, squad limits, the evolution of financial fair play, reforms of the transfer system, the creation of a clearing house to control money flows, restrictions on the commissions paid to players' agents, the introduction of a solidarity tax on transfers that would be used to support amateur and women’s football, loan limits, prohibition on cross-ownership of clubs, the strengthening of the locally-trained players’ rule.”
“We are open,” Mr Čeferin confirmed, “to any and all reforms that would serve the good of the game.”
“We are imaginative and committed, and we are just waiting for the green light from those who publically criticise the current situation, but have yet to enable us to put it right.”
“I am confident that things will soon change. The momentum is there…it is up to us to seize it. And I assure you I have every intention of doing so. Because creating the perfect balance was not just a slogan during my campaign; it’s still mine, and it’s still your goal.”
Mr Čeferin spoke of the progress made by UEFA since he was elected as President in September 2016 – progress, he said, that had been made in record time.
“After one year and six days as UEFA President,” he told the associations, “my and our actions speak louder than my words, and I have no intention of playing at after-sales service or propaganda.”
“We have launched a programme of social fair play, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, as highlighted by our new #EqualGame campaign, but also on child protection, with initiatives ranging from a study into the consequences of heading the ball to the fight against abuse and paedophilia.”
“We have revised our statutes to impose term limits and give more authority to holders of active offices within their national associations, while also reinforcing our ability to uphold ethics in football.“
“We have put in place bidding procedures for all our competitions, including our club competition finals. This may seem normal, and trivial even, but it is a serious measure that has taken UEFA another step away from politicking and firmly into a new era of professionalism and transparency.“
“Finally, we have re-established dialogue with our various partners and rebuilt the spirit of trust that is so vital to all meaningful progress within our sport.”
Mr Čeferin welcomed the teamwork that was taking positive shape among football’s various stakeholders to move the game forward in the coming period.
“These are times of harmony,” he said. “We are a team once again. Everyone has found their place and seems ready and willing to support their team-mates.”
“It is by standing together, supporting each other and coordinating our action,” the UEFA President concluded, “that we can correct the errors of the past and re-establish the equilibrium that is so indispensable to the development and sustainability of European football.”