UEFA’s leading clubs ‘consider controversial plan to play ‘meaningful’ Champions League games OUTSIDE of Europe’… with the US, China and the Middle East ‘all viewed as possible hosts’ for group stage matches
- UEFA’s best clubs will discuss plans to play ‘meaningful’ games outside Europe
- It could see Champions League group stage games played in the US or Asia
- PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is thought to support the new concept
- The proposals are likely to be scowled at by devoted club fans based in Europe
UEFA’s leading clubs ‘are considering the idea of playing some Champions League games in the USA, China or the Middle East’, according to a new claim.
This week, UEFA’s executive committee meet on Hvar, Croatia, before the general assembly of the European Club Association (ECA) takes place in Istanbul, Turkey.
These conferences are a way for clubs and executives to explore ways to grow football, and drive up revenues across the game in a post-Covid world.
Champions League games, like those including 2022 winners Real Madrid, could be moved
Now The Athletic believe there will be serious discussions about taking some of the Champions League’s best games out of Europe and into other markets.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi – chair of the ECA and a member of UEFA’s executive committee – backs the plan.
The plan is to allow the global fanbase of some of the continent’s biggest clubs easier access to ‘meaningful games’ – with sources telling The Athletic this relates to group stage games initially.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi backs the plan for games outside of Europe
However, it is merely a proposal – one which would undoubtedly infuriate fanbases in Europe, who were not afraid to make their voices heard amid the failed European Super League affair.
The collapse of the Super League meant UEFA gave more power to its leading clubs, and it is this which they are hoping to capitalise on with these intercontinental conversations.
Other options on the table include a four-team ‘Opening Tournament’ featuring last season’s Champions League winners, and playing the UEFA Super Cup outside of Europe.
The Champions League is moving to a new ‘Swiss-style format’ with 36 clubs from 2024
The Champions League is currently in the middle of one of its final group stages before it moves from the conventional 32 team tournament to a ‘Swiss-style format’ with 36 sides from 2024.
Last week, the ECA released a report which showed a third of Chinese football fans and 28% of those in the US were influenced to start following the sport by major competitions.
The report said: ‘This highlights that there are opportunities for European clubs and competitions to build on this interest and influence; to increase the availability of European club football to these audiences and allow exposure to these events to continue building further and deeper interest and engagement.’
This week’s ECA summit will also hear from Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, which has grown its audience around the world through devices like ‘Drive to Survive’.
PSG president Al-Khelaifi, left, is on the UEFA executive committee, as well as head of the ECA