Aleksander Ceferin is confident FIFA will soon abandon its plans for a biennial World Cup, which he considers "a no-go for everyone in football".

FIFA, led by chief of global football development Arsene Wenger, has been pushing for its showpiece international tournament to take place every two years, rather than every four.

The idea has been met with widespread opposition by others within football, however – particularly in Europe and South America.

And although the world governing body has publicly continued to pursue the change, UEFA president Ceferin says it has now accepted it cannot happen.

"A biennial World Cup is a no-go for everyone in football," Ceferin said at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Thursday.

"I am glad FIFA has realised that as well. I had a discussion with FIFA's president about it yesterday.

"We cannot say football on other continents cannot be developed, but we should be aligned, and it should not hurt European and South American federations.

"We have discussions, but as far as I am concerned, a biennial World Cup is off the table. I am sure we will come to a solution with FIFA soon."

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has responded to the ban of Russian teams by FIFA and UEFA, saying it "categorically disagrees with" and could yet challenge the decision.

The two governing bodies have suspended Russian teams from club and international competitions until further notice, denying them entry to the 2022 World Cup and Women's Euro 2022.

Spartak Moscow will be removed from the Europa League, where they had been set to face RB Leipzig in the last 16.

The sanctions were imposed on Russia on Monday following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine last week.

A subsequent statement from the RFU suggested it could investigate avenues for an appeal "in accordance with international sports law".

It read: "The Russian Football Union categorically disagrees with the decision of FIFA and UEFA to suspend all Russian teams from participating in international matches for an indefinite period.

"We believe that this decision is contrary to the norms and principles of international competitions, as well as to the sporting spirit.

"It is obviously discriminatory in nature and harms a huge number of athletes, coaches, employees of clubs and national teams, and most importantly, millions of Russian and foreign fans, whose interests international sports organisations should primarily protect.

"Such actions divide the world sports community, which has always adhered to the principles of equality, mutual respect and independence from politics.

"We reserve the right to challenge the decision of FIFA and UEFA in accordance with international sports law."

FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian teams from club and international competitions, denying them entry to the 2022 World Cup and Women's Euro 2022.

The decision means Spartak Moscow will be removed from the Europa League last 16, where they were due to face RB Leipzig.

UEFA has also ended its relationship with Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy giant that was a major sponsor of the Champions League.

A joint statement from FIFA and UEFA read: "Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine.

"Both presidents [Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin] hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people."

The sporting world has called for sanctions to be imposed on Russia following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine last week.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – Russia's World Cup play-off opponents – all announced an intention to boycott their fixtures, although FIFA's initial sanctions allowed the Russian Football Union to put forward a team playing under a different name and flag in a neutral location.

But this FIFA decision was widely criticised, including by players' union FIFPro, which wanted more than "the lightest of sanctions" and said Russia's continued involvement in international competition was "not a possibility".

That was a view shared on Monday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which said Russian and Belarusian athletes should be excluded from sporting events to "protect the integrity of global sports competitions".

FIFA subsequently changed its stance in a joint-announcement with UEFA, ruling Russia – hosts of the 2018 World Cup – out of tournaments including this year's two showpiece events in Qatar and England.

Russia were set to face Poland and then either Sweden or the Czech Republic in World Cup qualifying, while they had already reached the Women's Euros, drawn into a group with Sweden, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Scotland remain in contact with FIFA and UEFA regarding World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine, while the Scottish FA (SFA) confirmed they will boycott fixtures with Russia amid the ongoing conflict.

Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday, with the fighting escalating over the weekend after weeks of heightening political tensions between the two countries.

The conflict has been widely condemned, with sporting, political and financial sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus in an attempt to deter the pair from continuing with the attacks.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged action as they called on international sporting federations to relocate or cancel any events set to take place in Russia or Belarus.

UEFA subsequently acted by stripping St Petersburg of the 2021-22 Champions League final, while Formula One removed the Russian Grand Prix from its 2022 calendar.

A plethora of international sporting stars, including Russian tennis stars Andrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev, have demanded peace as they condemned war.

The SFA has followed suit by offering support to Ukraine, who Scotland's men are scheduled to face in a World Cup play-off semi-final on 24 March with the women's teams set to meet on 8 April.

"The Scottish FA President, Rod Petrie, has written to his counterpart at the Ukrainian Association of Football to send a message of support, friendship, and unity," a statement from the SFA read on Monday.

"Football is inconsequential amid conflict but we have conveyed the strong sense of solidarity communicated to us by Scotland fans and citizens in recent days.

"We remain in dialogue with UEFA and FIFA regarding our men's FIFA World Cup play-off and women's World Cup qualifier and have offered to support our Ukrainian colleagues' preparations as best we can in these unimaginably difficult circumstances.

"Should the current circumstances continue, we will not sanction the nomination of a team to participate in our scheduled UEFA Regions Cup fixture against Russia, due to be played in August.

"This will remain our position should any other fixtures arise at any level of international football."

England will boycott international football fixtures with Russia "for the foreseeable future" in response to the conflict in Ukraine, the Football Association (FA) has confirmed.

After weeks of heightening political tensions, Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday, with the conflict having escalated over the weekend.

Russia's actions have been widely condemned, with political, financial and sporting sanctions imposed.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) called on all international sporting federations to relocate or cancel any events set to take place in Russia or Belarus, while St Petersburg was stripped of the 2021-22 Champions League final by UEFA and Formula One removed the Russian Grand Prix from its 2022 calendar.

The FA has followed suit and will refuse to take part in any fixture with Russia for the foreseeable future as a show of solidarity for Ukraine.

"Out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership, the FA can confirm that we won't play against Russia in any international fixtures for the foreseeable future," a statement released by the FA read.

"This includes any potential match at any level of senior, age group or para football."

The FA's stance comes after Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic all announced that they will boycott matches against Russia in the upcoming World Cup qualification play-off rounds.

A number of prominent footballing figures, including Robert Lewandowski, have spoken out in support of that decision, while Sunday's EFL Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley was preceded by a united display of support for the Ukrainian people.

The Czech Republic have joined Poland and Sweden in refusing to play Russia ahead of next month's UEFA World Cup qualifying play-offs.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, following weeks of rising political tensions in the region. The conflict escalated further on Friday, with the fighting reaching the capital city of Kyiv. There was intense fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, on Sunday.

It was confirmed by Poland's Football Association on Saturday that they would refuse to play their scheduled 'Path B' play-off semi-final against Russia.

Russia had been set to host Poland in March, but on Friday, UEFA said any international matches due to be held in Russia or Ukraine would have to be moved to a neutral venue, as well as confirming St Petersburg had been stripped of holding this season's Champions League final, which will now be played in Paris.

That followed a request from the Polish, Swedish and Czech FAs that Russia be barred from hosting any upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The winner of the tie between Poland and Russia would have been due to play either Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place at Qatar 2022.

Despite UEFA's declaration, the power to decide where the qualifiers are played and whether Russia can remain a part of them ultimately rests with world governing body FIFA.

Announcing their boycott, Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza said the three national associations were working to find a "common position" and that has now been achieved. The Swedish FA said on Saturday it was not possible to play Russia "regardless of where the match is played" and on Sunday the Czech FA took the same stance.

A statement posted on Twitter read: "The Czech FA executive committee, staff members and players of the national team agreed it's not possible to play against the Russian national team in the current situation, not even on the neutral venue. We all want the war to end as soon as possible."

Football's world governing body FIFA previously said in a statement that it "condemns the use of force by Russia in Ukraine and any type of violence to resolve conflicts. Violence is never a solution and FIFA calls on all parties to restore peace through constructive dialogue".

It added: "FIFA also continues to express its solidarity to the people affected by this conflict.

"Regarding football matters in both Ukraine and Russia, FIFA will continue to monitor the situation and updates in relation to the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers will be communicated in due course."

Julian Nagelsmann has been left shocked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with the Bayern Munich boss admitting he was fearful of the consequences.

Russia, to widespread condemnation, invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday. That conflict escalated on Friday, with fighting having reached the capital of Kyiv, which is Munich's twin city.

Bayern confirmed that their Allianz Arena stadium would be lit up in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag on Friday evening, to show solidarity with Ukraine.

Bayern played against Dynamo Kyiv in the group stages of this season's Champions League, and Nagelsmann expressed his shock at seeing a city where he and his team visited now being in the middle of a war zone.

"How difficult is it to think about everyday life? Obviously it's difficult, I'm shocked," he told a news conference.

"I'm also to a certain extent fearful that this is happening in a country where only recently we jogged across the pitch, looked at the beautiful city [Kyiv] and now you see these terrible pictures from Ukraine.

"It's not easy to talk about football. Of course you think about your concerns with continuing to do your job well but if you look at the news it makes you think a lot about what's going on and what the consequences will be.

"First of all for the people in Ukraine, it's dramatic, it's shocking. Yesterday I read a very good phrase that said 'there's no way to peace, peace is the way'. I think that should be the motto again as quickly as possible."

Russian politicians, certain high-profile individuals and companies have been hit by sanctions from many countries in response to the invasion.

In sport, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged federations planning to host events in Russia and Belarus, who have supported the invasion, to be relocated or cancelled.

Manchester United have ended their sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflot, Formula One has removed the Russian Grand Prix from its calendar and UEFA has moved this season's Champions League final from St Petersburg to Paris.

Nagelsmann fully backed UEFA's decision.

"Firstly it's good that UEFA decided quickly and decided the right way," he said. "It's always good to have a quick decision and a good sign."

Bundesliga leaders Bayern face Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

The 2022 Champions League final will be held in Paris after UEFA stripped St Petersburg of the right to stage the game.

The decision came after European football's governing body condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and called an emergency meeting of the executive committee to discuss the situation.

It is understood UEFA agreed to relocate the final on Thursday, the first day of Russia's military assault on neighbouring Ukraine, which continued on Friday. An announcement was delayed while a suitable new venue was selected.

The match will now be held at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis at the original time of 20:00 GMT (21:00 CET) on May 28.

UEFA also ordered that all Russian and Ukrainian club sides, as well as the national teams, must play their home matches at neutral venues "until further notice".

Spartak Moscow will be in the draw for the Europa League round of 16, which takes place on Friday, while Russia are due to face Poland in a World Cup play-off tie next month, the winner of which would play Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place at the finals in Qatar.

The football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic had all previously warned they would not consider travelling to Russia for matches following president Vladimir Putin's decision to launch the Ukraine offensive.

"The signatories to this appeal do not consider travelling to Russia and playing football matches there. The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations," they said.

"Therefore, we expect FIFA and UEFA to react immediately and to present alternative solutions regarding places where these approaching playoff matches could be played."

UEFA's executive committee has agreed to remain on standby for further extraordinary meetings "to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary".

 

The 2022 Champions League final will be held in Paris after UEFA stripped St Petersburg of the right to stage the game.

The decision came after European football's governing body condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and called an emergency meeting of the executive committee to discuss the situation.

It is understood UEFA agreed to relocate the final on Thursday, the first day of Russia's military assault on neighbouring Ukraine, which continued on Friday. An announcement was delayed while a suitable new venue was selected.

The match will now be held at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis at the original time of 20:00 GMT (21:00 CET) on May 28.

 

Russia should not be allowed to host World Cup qualifying play-off matches due to the nation's invasion of Ukraine, the respective football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have said.

The four countries are in the same UEFA qualifying pathway for Qatar 2022, with Russia set to host Poland next month. Should they win that fixture they are scheduled to be at home to the winner of Sweden versus the Czech Republic.

A joint statement from the trio said they would not consider playing matches in Russia following president Vladimir Putin's decision to launch military action into neighbouring Ukraine, with all three insisting a neutral venue should be found.

"Based on the current alarming development in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the security situation, the Football Associations of Poland (PZPN), Sweden (SvFF) and Czech Republic (FACR) express their firm position that the play-off matches to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for 24 and 29 March, should not be played in the territory of the Russian Federation," the joint statement read.

"The signatories to this appeal do not consider travelling to Russia and playing football matches there. The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations.

"Therefore, we expect FIFA and UEFA to react immediately and to present alternative solutions regarding places where these approaching playoff matches could be played."

Russia, Poland and Sweden all confirmed their place in the second-stage playoffs after finishing as runners-up in their respective qualifying groups.

They were joined by the Czech Republic as one of the two best-ranked Nations League finishers not already qualified or involved in the play-off pathway.

Russia already face serious sanctions, including sports-related punishments, following their invasion.

They are expected to be stripped of hosting rights for the Champions League Final, while there is serious doubt over the Formula One Russian Grand Prix.

UEFA plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and halve them over the next eight years as part of a sustainability pledge.

European football's governing body has joined the United Nations' Race to Zero campaign following the launch of its own sustainability strategy in December.

The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 as part of plans to achieve net zero carbon by 2040 "within UEFA, across UEFA events and collaboratively across European football".

"Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing society today and we have unfortunately witnessed how flooding and unseasonable weather patterns have lately devastated infrastructure across the world," president Aleksander Ceferin said.
 
"The transition to a thriving, green economy is imperative and must be part of the solution. Football can play an important role in implementing new standards in this respect and raising awareness across the globe."

Lindita Xhaferi Salihu, Sectoral Engagement Lead (Sport for Climate Action) at UN Climate Change, added: "Just like in football, addressing climate change requires leadership, resilience and teamwork and we look forward to working with UEFA to apply these standards on the field and outside of stadium."

UEFA has stepped up its initiatives to help to combat climate change following accusations of 'greenwashing' in the wake of Euro 2020.

Amid concerns about the environmental cost of staging a tournament across 11 host cities – Wales fans were forced to travel more than 12,000 kilometres just for two group games in Baku – UEFA pledged to offset 405,000 tonnes of carbon produced by fans and its staff members journeying to games.

There were also plans to plant 50,000 trees in each of the host cities, but UEFA shelved them last year, citing the impact of the pandemic, as attention turned to other projects.

FIFA has published results from a study that claims "the majority" of football fans would like to see more frequent World Cups just hours after UEFA said an independent survey called proposals "alarming".

Earlier on Friday, UEFA warned of "a deeply negative outlook" for international football in Europe if FIFA gets the green light to stage the World Cup every two years.

The messages from the two governing bodies came ahead of FIFA holding its global summit with national associations on Monday.

FIFA will lay out its plans to stage World Cups, both men's and women's, every two years in the future, in what could lead to the biggest shake-up in the game for many years.

The "independent" study that was commissioned by UEFA, which has been vehemently against the idea of biennial World Cups ever since proposals gained mainstream traction, said European national associations could see a drop in revenues of up to €3billion over four years and that 30 per cent of fans would watch less domestic and European Championship football.

Additionally, it suggested 60 per cent of fans believe the World Cup's prestige would fall and 65 per cent think it would lead to a bloated international football calendar.

But FIFA's own study says fans are in favour of watching "the FIFA World Cup more frequently, for example every two years, provided that player workload does not increase".

According to FIFA, of the 30,390 people involved in the study who said football was their favourite sport, 63.7 per cent were in favour of more men's World Cups, with the 25-34 age category apparently the "most supportive", and 52.4 per cent want to see the women's tournament more often.

The results were split between continents and suggest there is more backing among the lesser-established international teams.

It is claimed Africa (76 per cent), Asia (66), North, Central America and the Caribbean (53), South America (54) and Oceania (55) all have majorities in favour of more men's World Cups, however less than half (48 per cent) of Europeans are.

Opposition is said to be especially strong in some of the leading European nations, with England's disapproval percentage at 53, Germany's at 50 and France's at 42. Those three were also considered the most disapproving of more women's World Cups.

England must play their Nations League game against Italy behind closed doors at Wembley next June – as punishment for crowd trouble at the Euro 2020 final between the teams.

Gareth Southgate's side made it to the final of the delayed showpiece event in July but were beaten on home turf by the Azzurri in a penalty shoot-out following a 1-1 draw.

The Wembley final was marred by ugly scenes in the stands, outside, and on the concourses, and UEFA hit the English Football Association with a two-game ban on supporters as punishment in October, with the first closure to take place in England's next UEFA game.

The second closure was suspended for a probationary two-year period, while the FA received a €100,000 (£85,000) fine.

The Italy fixture on June 11 is England's next competitive UEFA home game and will be a rematch of the final and a chance for the hosts to gain a degree of revenge, but they will not have the boost of their supporters at the ground.

England's Nations League opponents were revealed on Thursday, with the Three Lions drawn against Germany and Hungary as well as Italy.

Southgate's team must also play in an empty stadium away from home in their opening match on June 4 against Hungary.

The Hungarians were served with a three-match behind-closed-doors order – one of which was suspended – following incidents at the Puskas Arena and in Munich at Euro 2020. That has since been reduced to two matches, with one game suspended.

The Three Lions' other two June fixtures are away against Germany on June 7 and at home to Hungary – with supporters allowed at Wembley – on June 14.

England then do not play in the competition again until a trip to Italy on September 23 before hosting Germany three days later.

UEFA has warned of "a deeply negative outlook" for international football in Europe if FIFA gets the green light to stage the World Cup every two years.

The message from Europe's governing body comes ahead of FIFA holding its global summit with national associations on Monday.

FIFA will lay out its plans to stage World Cups, both men's and women's, every two years in the future, in what could lead to the biggest shake-up in the game for many years.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently suggested football's elite who opposed a revamping of the game were "afraid" of what change would mean for them, given their positions of power.

A study commissioned by UEFA points to a steep slide in revenues stemming from its own international competitions. It forecasts European national associations could see a drop by between €2.5billion and €3billion in a four-year cycle, also warning of a major decline in UEFA income for the women's game if more men's tournaments are to be staged.

UEFA, which was already firmly opposed to FIFA's plan, said the findings of the study by consultancy firm Oliver and Ohlbaum were "alarming" and raise "severe concerns".

The study contended that broadcast revenue will fall for each event, with advertising rates "likely to hold up" but viewing set to "likely decline".

It said research showed that around 30 per cent of fans would watch less of the European Championship and domestic football, while 60 per cent think the World Cup's prestige would fall and 65 per cent think a change would lead to a bloated international football calendar.

The study warned of "lower broadcaster and sponsor willingness to pay for further tournaments, even if they deliver eyeballs", and said for the four years from 2026 to 2030, with World Cups happening every two years, the impact "would be strongly negative", even if UEFA's European Championship also shifted to become biennial.

It forecast UEFA revenues would be reduced from €4.6billion to €4.2billion if qualification took place in two blocks of games, and to €4.0billion if all qualifiers took place in a single block, with a knock-on effect on distributions to national associations.

Women's football has been on an upward growth curve in recent years, helped by the exposure its tournaments have had at times when there has been no corresponding men's event.

But the study predicted that viewership "would fall significantly" if men's events take place in the same year as women's showpieces, reducing their prospects of being in the media and public spotlight. It said income from the Women's European Championship would slide from €102m to €44m if that tournament continues to take place once every four years, or to €78m should it also become a biennial competition.

FIFA has found some support for its proposals, which have been pushed by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, now head of global football at the governing body. Africa has given its backing, while there has also been positive interest from Asia and those from the CONCACAF region. Like UEFA, however, South America's powerful CONMEBOL confederation has come out firmly against FIFA's idea.

UEFA warned again on Friday of the prospect of "increasing mental and physical exhaustion of players", and of intruding on spaces in the calendar currently occupied by other sports.

"In this dark sporting context, the research conducted by Oliver and Ohlbaum projects a deeply negative outlook for European national team football, should the FIFA plan be implemented," UEFA said in a statement.

Italy were drawn to face England and Germany in a tough 2022-23 Nations League group on Thursday.

The Azzurri beat England in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley in July and the two sides will do battle again in Group A3 of the Nations League.

They will also face Germany and Hungary home and away in matches that will take place next June and September 2022.

Holders France are in Group A1 along with Croatia, Denmark and Austria.

World champions France were crowned champions when they came from behind to beat Spain 2-1 at San Siro in October.

Spain were drawn in Group A2 and will come up against Portugal, Czech Republic and Switzerland in the third edition of the UEFA competition.

Belgium, who squandered a two-goal lead to lose against France at the semi-final stage of the Nations League two months ago, will take on Netherlands, Poland and Wales.

Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Ukraine and Armenia are in League B Group 1.

Russia, Iceland, Israel and Albania will do battle in Group B2, with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland and Romania in Group B3.

Group B4 will see Serbia, Sweden, Norway and Slovenia lock horns as they strive to secure promotion.

Four of the six matchdays will be in June due to the scheduling of the World Cup in Qatar later in 2022.

The four group winners in League A will advance to the Nations League Finals in June 2023. The group winners in the other three leagues will all be promoted for the 2024-25 edition.

Page 2 of 7
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.