Aleksander Ceferin re-elected UEFA president unopposed until 2027

LISBON: Aleksander Ceferin railed against the rebel clubs backing a breakaway European Super League, likening the project to “Little Red Riding Hood”, as he was re-elected unopposed for a third term as UEFA president on Wednesday.

The 55-year-old Slovenian lawyer, first elected in 2016 following the downfall of Frenchman Michel Platini, will now remain in the role until 2027.

“I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unanimous support. It really means a lot to me,” Ceferin told delegates after being re-elected by acclamation at the UEFA Congress in Lisbon.

“It is a great honour but mainly it is a great, great responsibility, towards you and towards football.”

The UEFA Congress came just a few weeks after Gianni Infantino was re-elected as president of the sport’s world governing body FIFA, also unopposed.

Ceferin recently successfully opposed proposals by Infantino to hold the World Cup every two years, and his re-election comes after he also fought off the breakaway Super League project during his second term.

He will now oversee the introduction of a new format for the Champions League starting next year.

However, the Super League is not dead yet, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus continuing to pursue the project.

A lawsuit has been launched against UEFA and FIFA at the European Court of Justice, accusing the governing bodies of abusing their power by threatening to expel clubs and players interested in joining a breakaway league.

A final ruling is expected in the coming weeks, although the court’s advocate general, whose opinions are often followed by judges, provided a first ruling favourable to UEFA in December.

“Those who promote this project are now claiming that they want to save football,” Ceferin said before evoking one of the most famous European fairy tales.

“In the space of a few months the so-called Super League has turned into a character in Little Red Riding Hood, a wolf disguised as a grandmother ready to eat you up.

“Is anybody fooled? Here we have two opposing world views, cynicism over morality, selfishness over solidarity, greed over benevolence, shameful lies over the truth, cartel over meritocracy and democracy, the quest for profit over the quest for trophies.

“Domestic leagues must remain the foundation of football,” added Ceferin, who also thanked the powerful European Club Association, presided over by Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi, for backing UEFA against the Super League.

The new Champions League format will be introduced from the 2024/25 season, with the number of clubs involved in the group stage increasing from 32 to 36 teams all playing in one pool using what is known as the Swiss system.

The new format will see all participants play eight matches against eight different opponents.

Currently the group stage is divided into eight sections of four teams playing each other home and away.

While he seeks to calm tensions with Infantino, who also addressed the meeting in Lisbon, Ceferin will in addition be able to focus on pursuing the planned introduction of new Financial Fair Play rules.

Clubs will be forced to limit spending on player and staff wages, transfers and agents fees to 70 percent of total revenues by 2025/26.

Ceferin has also raised the possibility of relaxing rules that currently prevent clubs with the same owners facing each other in European competitions.