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UEFA president wants lawmakers to help make soccer fairer

UEFA has set ``competitive balance'' among teams in its competitions as a priority. The Champions League is now seen as weighted too heavily toward the top-five wealthiest national leagues who dominate the entry lists and prize money shares.

By: AP | Geneva | Published: September 20, 2017 6:20 pm
uefa, uefa president, uefa congress, aleksander ceferin, Aleksander Ceferin cited German Chancellor Angela Merkel among politicians who have criticized the sport’s finances after a record offseason spending by wealthy clubs. (Source: Reuters)

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin challenged European lawmakers on Wednesday to help make the business of soccer fairer.

In a speech to leaders of Europe’s 55 national soccer bodies, Ceferin cited German Chancellor Angela Merkel among politicians who have criticized the sport’s finances after a record offseason spending by wealthy clubs.

“To all European politicians, let me say that we cannot agree more,” the UEFA president said. “But I cannot say that you have done much to help us set things straight so far.

“We are imaginative and committed, and we are just waiting for the green light from those who publicly condemn the current situation but have yet to enable us to put it right,” Ceferin said.

UEFA has set “competitive balance” among teams in its competitions as a priority. The Champions League is now seen as weighted too heavily toward the top-five wealthiest national leagues who dominate the entry lists and prize money shares.

Still, labor and business laws enforced by the European Union prevent many of the “whole arsenal of concrete measures” that Ceferin, a lawyer from Slovenia, identified as potential policies.

They included salary caps, luxury tax, enforced squad limits, transfer reform, a clearing house to control money flows, limiting player agent fees, solidarity tax on transfers to fund women’s soccer, limiting loans of players, and preventing ownership of more than one club.

“I am confident that things will soon change for the better,” Ceferin said in a hint that lawmakers in Brussels were prepared to be flexible.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino also told European soccer leaders that change should come.

“It is the responsibility of all us to tackle the transfer system for the future,” said Infantino, a former UEFA general secretary who has experience of soccer working within EU laws.

Infantino identified as problems spiraling commission fees to agents and too little transfer fee money filtering down to smaller clubs which trained players early in their careers.

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