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London to host additional matches at UEFA EURO 2020

The UEFA Executive Committee met in Nyon to discuss a wide range of matters related to European football, including who will host the first match of UEFA EURO 2020.

The UEFA Executive Committee met today at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland and took the following decisions:

UEFA EURO 2020

▪ Due to the Eurostadium project’s failure to meet the conditions imposed by the UEFA Executive Committee during its meeting of 20th September 2017, the four matches initially scheduled to be held in Brussels will now be allocated to Wembley Stadium, London following a vote by the committee. This means Wembley will host a total of seven matches since they were already set to stage the semi-finals and final of the tournament.

▪ The Stadio Olimpico in Rome was selected as the venue for the opening match.

▪ The host city pairings were decided by means of a random draw – from six different lists of city pairings established on the basis of sporting strength and geographical considerations – and will be as follows:

• Group A: Rome and Baku
• Group B: Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen
• Group C: Amsterdam and Bucharest
• Group D: London and Glasgow
• Group E: Bilbao and Dublin
• Group F: Munich and Budapest

Each qualified host country will play a minimum of two matches at home in the group-stage.

UEFA Nations League

The seedings and draw procedure were approved and teams in each league will be allocated to different pots on the basis of the national team coefficient.

It was also confirmed that the teams of Russia/Ukraine and Armenia/Azerbaijan would be kept apart during the proceedings. The full seedings and draw procedure can be accessed here.

UEFA Futsal Cup

The Pabellón Principe Felipe in Zaragoza was appointed to stage the 2018 Finals, to be played between 19 and 22 April.

Further decision

A renewed Memorandum of Understanding with the Alliance of European Football Coaches’ Associations (AEFCA) was ratified for the period 2018-21, enabling further cooperation between UEFA and coaches.

The next meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee is scheduled for 25 February 2018 – the day before the 42nd Ordinary UEFA Congress – in Bratislava, Slovakia.

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FIFA and confederations look at expanding UEFA’s Nations League

MANCHESTER, England- FIFA has confirmed it is considering ways to expand UEFA’s new Nations League tournament on a global scale with ongoing talks involving a number of regional confederations considering radical proposals.

UEFA’s Nations League starts next September and features four divisions of national teams, replacing friendlies with competitive fixtures.

While the format has yet to be tested, the idea of a similar style of competition has already been under consideration at CONCACAF, which governs the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

With UEFA’s competition set to fill the international dates left for friendly games, teams in other confederations will find it difficult to get windows for games against European nations.

Responding to reports that UEFA was talking with other confederations, the global governing body said it was directly involved in the discussions.

“FIFA has been always involved from the beginning in the process. Thanks to the cooperative atmosphere FIFA will continue to have constructive discussions about the next steps together with UEFA and the other confederations,” the global governing body said in a statement.

UEFA said it had begun the process of consultation with all concerned bodies.

”UEFA can confirm that it has initiated discussions regarding the evolution of the UEFA Nations League. These constructive discussions involve our national associations, European football stakeholders, all confederations and of course FIFA, with whom we have a very good relationship.

“We have included them in discussions on this topic since the start. No decisions have been made at this time,” it said in a statement.

CONCACAF did not respond to a request for comment but in April their president Victor Montagliani told Reuters that the body was well on the way to creating its own version of UEFA’s competition.

“There has been overwhelming acceptance that it is a great idea and the way we need to go. There are a few formats that we have looked at and we have had various members coming back with ideas,” he said.

“What people need to realise is that the world of friendlies is going to change, with Europe changing to the Nations League, it is going to get harder to get friendlies,” said Montagliani who believes that will be no great loss.

While discussions are at a relatively early stage, one of the ideas that has been floated in media reports is for regional ‘leagues’ with a mini-tournament involving the winners from across the world.

Such mini-tournaments could also be held for teams from the lower divisions from different confederations, creating a sort of ‘minnows World Cup’.

(Clare Fallon)

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Madrid’s Metropolitano stadium to stage 2019 Champions League final

NYON, Switzerland- Atletico Madrid’s new Metropolitano stadium will stage the 2019 Champions League final, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin announced after an executive committee meeting on Wednesday.

Madrid was chosen ahead of Baku, the only other candidate to stage the match and which was awarded the Europa League final the same season.

Atletico inaugurated the new stadium, which is officially known as the Wanda Metropolitano and holds 67,500 people, on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Malaga.

UEFA also announced that the EPFL umbrella organisation representing Europe’s domestic leagues would have a place on their decision-making executive committee.

The announcement appeared to heal a rift with the EPFL, which had protested a UEFA decision last year to reduce the number of places in the lucrative Champions League group stage allocated to teams from the smaller leagues from next season.

Ceferin did not rule out overturning those changes for the subsequent 2021-24 cycle. “We are discussing, everything is possible but it is not the right time to be more precise,” he told reporters.

Brussels, one of the venues for the Euro 2020 tournament but which has been troubled by delays, was given until Nov. 20 to obtain “all relevant permits to start construction, as well as a realistic and guaranteed construction schedule”.

UEFA said that if Brussels stood down, the replacement candidates would be either Cardiff or Stockholm, which bid unsuccessfully to host matches, or London, which is hosting the semi-finals and final.

“We still trust Brussels. It would not be fair to think they cannot do it now because they have a deadline at the end of November,” added Ceferin. A final decision will be taken on Dec. 7, he said.

(Brian Homewood)

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Hungarian footballer participates in newly-launched UEFA campaign

UEFA has launched a new UEFA RESPECT social responsibility campaign under the banner #EqualGame, which will positively promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in football throughout Europe. Alongside some of world football’s biggest stars, István Szabó – a blind footballer for LÁSS SE –has also been selected as part of the campaign.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin believes European football’s governing body should be a social fair play organisation, meaning UEFA has a zero-tolerance stance on racism, sexism, homophobia or any form of discrimination.

“It is vitally important that UEFA makes football accessible for everyone and, through the power of sport, becomes a global leader to fight for social equality. The new #EqualGame initiative aims to help to bring the football community closer together and ensure that values such as inclusion, gender equality and the fight against discrimination continue to be at the forefront of UEFA’s vision and beliefs” he said at the launch of the initiative.

The main message of the social media campaign – which has the full support of the Hungarian Football – comprises of a short film which will be shown at every UEFA event throughout the course of the 2017/18 season.

One of those collaborating in the campaign is Hungarian István Szabó, who despite losing his sight hasn’t given up on playing football, and regularly takes to the pitch as captain of Budapest team LÁSS Egyesület.

The UEFA initiative is also supported by some of the world’s greatest and most popular players.

“People all over the world are different, but we all can find common ground in our love of football. This means football belongs to everyone, and we all should have the chance to play and enjoy it.” – Paul Pogba

“I am convinced that the positive power of football can help to bring the world and its peoples together. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or how well you can play. Football is for everyone” – Cristiano Ronaldo

“Football acts as a leveller in our society. Whilst everyone is different we’re all united by a common passion for a sport that truly belongs to each and every one of us. I’m fully behind UEFA’s #EqualGame campaign because I believe in the immense power of the sport and its ability to change our outlook on the world.” – Lionel Messi

Further details on the UEFA campaign can be found on the official uefa.com website, whilst the campaign video can be viewed on the MLSZ Facebook page.

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UEFA charges Arsenal and Cologne over crowd problems

LONDON-Premier League club Arsenal blamed the selling of tickets by touts for the crowd problems at their Europa League game against German side FC Cologne as UEFA began disciplinary proceedings on Friday.

Cologne and Arsenal have been charged with various offences at the match which was delayed by an hour after large numbers of German fans descended on the Emirates Stadium, the majority of them without tickets.

Many bought tickets for areas of the stadium occupied by Arsenal supporters, causing segregation issues, although there were only isolated incidents of trouble once the game started.

Cologne criticised Arsenal’s security and felt the police presence was not sufficient.

Arsenal said they had worked with the Metropolitan Police and UEFA in deciding whether the game, which the English team won 3-1, went ahead.

“Following last night’s match we would like to stress that fan safety was always our paramount concern and informed all decisions made,” Arsenal said in a statement.

”The 3,000 tickets issued to Cologne fans was in line with competition rules but it is clear many more visiting fans arrived, causing significant congestion and disturbance outside the stadium before kickoff.

“Many tickets were sold through touts and this is very disappointing,” the club added.

“We worked in full consultation with police and UEFA officials on the night and in advance of the game and had taken extensive steps in advance to prevent tickets being sold to visiting supporters.”

UEFA said Cologne had been charged with crowd disturbances, the setting off of fireworks, throwing objects and acts of damage to the stadium.

Arsenal were charged with a breach of safety and security regulations because of a blocked stairway in the away end, European soccer’s ruling body said in a statement.

Arsenal have launched a full review into the circumstances surrounding the game.

They denied claims that some Cologne fans had acquired tickets by joining Arsenal’s membership scheme.

“No red memberships purchased after the draw were able to be used to get tickets in the home end for this match,” Arsenal said. “We also worked with our colleagues at Cologne to stop supporters travelling without match tickets.”

Bundesliga club Cologne were playing in Europe for the first time for 25 years and an estimated 20,000 of their fans marched through the streets of London earlier in the day.

“The security concept and communication seemed inadequate and the police force too small,” Cologne said in a club statement.

“Due to the enormous demand for tickets, it would have been sensible, not least for security reasons, to allow more than the allocated five percent of stadium capacity to the guest fans.”

On the situation before the match, the statement added: “Despite the tremendous experience of both the London security forces and Arsenal as a permanent partaker in European football, the organisers were unfortunately not adequately prepared for the task.”

Police said five people had been arrested, all on suspicion of public order offences.

UEFA’s Ethics and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case on Thursday.

(Martyn Herman)

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UEFA chief Ceferin backs shorter transfer window

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has backed calls for the close-season transfer window to end before the start of the domestic league season across Europe.

The chairmen of the 20 English Premier League clubs will vote at a shareholders meeting on Sept. 7 to decide if their window should close before the season starts and several managers have voiced their support for the change.

The current transfer deadline is on Aug. 31 while the Premier League began on Aug. 11. The proposed change to the window requires 14 out of 20 votes to go through.

The idea has received support as it removes uncertainty and prevents the loss of key players after the start of the season.

“I am aware there are serious discussions around Europe regarding the shortening of the summer transfer window and we are following them closely,” the head of European football’s governing body told The Times in an emailed statement.

”In my view, it is not good when footballers play for one club when the league starts and another club when the transfer window closes. There is a lot of uncertainty for a long time.

“Therefore I would say that the window might be too long and I would support it being shorter.”

Several Premier League managers have dismissed fears that a change would leave them vulnerable to losing players to other European leagues, whose transfer windows would close later.

The Football League, which governs the lower tiers of English football, could follow in the top tier’s footsteps, according to chief executive Shaun Harvey.

“The one thing our member clubs have said is they do want stability in terms of the players that are available to them from the start of the season,” Harvey said.

”Shutting the transfer window before the season starts has always found favour with our clubs. It would make sense for the dates to be aligned with the Premier League and any unintended consequences need to be thought through.

“This will be on the agenda for our club meeting on September 21.”

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Europa League group stage squads confirmed

The 48 UEFA Europa League group stage contenders have confirmed their squads for the coming months – check out who’s made the cut and who’s missed out.

The 48 UEFA Europa League group stage contenders submitted their squads prior to Friday’s midnight CET deadline – the player lists have subsequently been approved by UEFA and are now published on UEFA.com.

Group A

Astana
Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Slavia Praha
Villarreal

Group B

Dynamo Kyiv
Partizan
Skënderbeu
Young Boys

Group C

Braga
Hoffenheim
İstanbul Başakşehir
Ludogorets Razgrad

Group D

AC Milan
AEK Athens
Austria Wien
Rijeka

Group E

Apollon Limassol
Atalanta
Everton
Lyon

Group F

København
Lokomotiv Moskva
Sheriff
Zlín

Group G

FCSB
Hapoel Beer-Sheva
Lugano
Viktoria Plzeň

Group H

Arsenal
BATE Borisov
Crvena zvezda
Köln

Group I

Konyaspor
Marseille
Salzburg
Vitória SC

Group J

Athletic Club
Hertha Berlin
Östersunds
Zorya

Group K

Lazio
Nice
Vitesse
Zulte Waregem

Group L

Real Sociedad
Rosenborg
Vardar
Zenit

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Champions League & Europa League Play-Offs Draw: Who Got Who and What are the Odds?

International club competitions Champions League and Europa League continue this month as the preliminary stages of continental tournaments reach their conclusion with a play-off round.

The momentum is building up nice and slow as clubs today learned their faith through a draw in Nyon which resulted in some rather exciting matches.
Champions League Play-Offs

The Europe’s brightest stage is getting ready to welcome the total of ten qualifying sides that will progress to the group stage after the play-off stage is complete following first leg on Tuesday 15 August and return legs scheduled to Tuesday 22 August.

The group stage draw is to be staged on August 24 when national champions and automatic participants will be joined by play-off winners to start their road to the final which will be played at NSK Olimpiyskiy national Sport Complex in Kiev in May 2018.

To put things into perspective from the play-offs draw, Premier League side Liverpool face Hoffenheim, the fourth-placed side in last season’s Bundesliga, which will be a tricky test for Jurgen Klopp’s men. The Reds are looking at the 2/5 betting odds to qualify, but such low price will need to be worked for as Premier League side know better than to underestimate the Germans.

Scottish champions Celtic face a long trip to Kazakhstan in a tricky tie against Astana. Brendan Rodgers’ men are given the same 2/5 betting odds just as Liverpool to emerge victorious from the two legs.

Among other notable match-ups, La Liga sides Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao were paired with Istanbul Basaksehir and Greek side Panathinaikos, respectively.

Napoli and Nice are pitted against each other in another highly-anticipated clash which will see Mario Balotelli return to Italy and to a club once linked with a move for the Italian striker. The French club are standing as the outside favourites to qualify with 7/4 betting odds slapped on them.
Full Champions League draw
Champions route:

Qarabag vs FC Copenhagen

APOEL vs Slavia Prague

Olympiacos vs Rijeka

Celtic vs Astana

Hapoel Beer Sheva vs Maribor
League route:

Istanbul Basaksehir vs Sevilla

Young Boys vs CSKA Moscow

Napoli vs Nice

Hoffenheim vs Liverpool

Sporting Lisbon vs Steaua Bucharest
Europa League Draw

Europa League play-off legs are scheduled to Thursday 17 August and Thursday 24 August, respectively. Winners will go to the group stage draw set to be held in Monaco on 25 August.

Perceived as a competition with lower value and quality to Champions League, Europa League has significantly improved its stature and reputation over the past few years, especially starting from last year when winners were granted automatic Champions League berth which Manchester United have to thank for this season.

The total of 22 ties were decided today with Premier League side Everton and Italian heavy spenders AC Milan learning their faiths, together with some other European great clubs such as Ajax, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao.

Ronald Koeman’s men will face Croatian side Hajduk Split. The Toffees were seeded in group two of the draw and have thus avoided the likes of AC Milan and Ajax. Everton are fighting for their place in Europa league for the first time in three years.

Talking about AC Milan, they got Macedonian Shkendija who pose no real threat for Vincenzo Montella’s heavily reinforced side.
Full Europa League draw:

Shkendija vs AC Milan
Vardar vs Fenerbahce
Ajax vs Rosenborg
Osijek vs Austria Vienna
Crvena Zvezda vs Krasnodar
Altach vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv
BATE Borisov vs Olexandriya
Club Brugge vs AEK Athens
Maritimo vs Dynamo Kiev
Dinamo Zagreb vs Skenderbeu
Ludogorets vs Suduva
Panathinaikos vs Athletic Bilbao
Apollon Limassol vs Midtjylland
Domzale vs Marseille
Partizan Belgrade vs Videoton
FH Hafnarfjordur vs Braga
Everton vs Hajduk Split
Utrecht vs Zenit St Petersburg
Legia Warsaw vs Sheriff Tiraspol
Viitorul vs Salzburg
Viktoria Plzen vs. AEK Larnaca
PAOK Salonika vs. Ostersund

(Milos Markovic)