UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin labelled the crowd trouble at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy as unacceptable and warned it must never happen again.

Italy secured their first European Championship since 1968 with a penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley Stadium in July, but the game was marred by clashes before the final.

Hundreds of supporters without tickets attempted to gain entry prior to kick-off, with an independent review later concluding it was "clear we were close to fatalities and/or life-changing injuries for some, potentially many" of the fans in attendance after 17 mass breaches of Wembley's gates.

UEFA punished the Football Association (FA) with a two-game stadium ban, one of which is suspended for two years, and an £84,560 fine.

The FA subsequently apologised and said it was appalled at the disorder that saw ticketless fans fight with stewards and police officers in an attempt to force their way into the stadium.

Ceferin, who was in attendance at the final, reinforced his disappointment with the failures of football as he spoke to a UEFA congress in Vienna on Wednesday.

"We still have many problems to solve to make our sport a role model and greater source of inspiration than it is today," Ceferin said.

"The images of violence at Wembley Stadium at last year's Euro final are unacceptable.

"When a family goes to see a match of any competition, it should be a time for fun, celebration and enjoyment. People should feel safe in and around a stadium.

"They should never feel in danger. With the authorities' help, this cannot happen again. Ever."

 

UEFA has approved changes to the Champions League format from the 2024-25 season, including an increase to eight group-stage matches.

European football's governing body had already announced in April that the competition would expand from 32 teams to 36 in two seasons' time.

And following talks in Vienna on Tuesday, the UEFA Executive Committee confirmed the number of rounds in the group stage will increase from six to eight.

All group and knockout-stage games up until the final will continue to be staged on midweek days, as it currently the case.

Two of the four additional places in the expanded format will be awarded on the basis of the highest-performing countries from the past season across UEFA club competitions.

If that had been the case this season, an additional team from the Premier League and Eredivisie would have qualified for next season's tournament.

It had previously been reported that those two places would go to clubs on the basis of their historic performance in European competition, but that is no longer the case.

Of the other two spots, an extra team will qualify from the fifth-ranked country in Europe, while another will go to one of the domestic champions who do not qualify automatically.

Commenting on the changes, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, said: "UEFA has clearly shown today that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values of sport and to defending the key principle of open competitions, with qualification based on sporting merit, fully in line with the values and solidarity-based European sports model.

"Today's decisions conclude an extensive consultation process during which we listened to the ideas of fans, players, coaches, national associations, clubs and leagues to name but a few, with the aim to find the best solution for the development and success of European football, both domestically and on the international club stage."

Under the new format, the initial phase will contain a single league consisting of all 36 teams, with each side playing four home games and four away games against eight different opponents.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16.

Ceferin added: "We are convinced that the format chosen strikes the right balance and that it will improve the competitive balance and generate solid revenues that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and into grassroots football across our continent while increasing the appeal and popularity of our club competitions.
 
"I am really pleased that it was a unanimous decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, with the European Club Association, European Leagues and National Associations all agreeing with the proposal made. Another proof that European football is more united than ever.

"Qualification will thus remain purely based on sporting performance and the dream to participate will remain for all clubs."

Similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League and Europa Conference League, with both also including 36 teams in the initial league phase.

Jose Mourinho is "convinced" Roma will advance to the Europa Conference League semi-finals against Bodo/Glimt, insisting his side are "the best team" in the tie.

The Giallorossi boss also said he was not interested in discussing the controversy which erupted at the end of the two sides' first-leg clash, but pointedly highlighted Roma's "exemplary" conduct when losing to the same opponents last October.

Roma fell to a 2-1 reverse at the home of the Norwegian champions last Thursday, and are winless in their three head-to-head meetings with them this season (one draw, two losses), scoring just four goals and conceding 10.

Controversy erupted after the first-leg clash, with Bodo/Glimt boss Kjetil Knutsen and Roma goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos receiving bans from UEFA after the former accused Santos of assault in the tunnel after the game.

Mourinho, who is looking to deliver the capital club their first major trophy since 2008, said he was convinced Roma would prove they are "the best team" at the Stadio Olimpico, but refuted suggestions that there would be "tension" between the two camps on Thursday.

"I haven't seen any player feeling the tension, and I didn't in any of the three games we have already played," Mourinho said. "The first game [a 6-1 loss last October] was a historic defeat for us, as a club, and as professionals. But our conduct was, in my opinion, exemplary in the way we reacted to losing in the way we lost.

"We showed a spirit of fair play, a dignity and a comportment that was unusual. Usually, people react in negative ways to something like that, but we showed honour, outside of the humiliation of the result itself.

"What happened on Thursday evening was something detached from the contest. The game was normal, then there was an ugly moment, but one that bears no relation to anything else that happened [on the pitch].

"That's it. Tomorrow we just want to play, and I think that they just want to play. We want to reach the semi-finals and so do they.

"Tomorrow I am expecting a football match where the best team wins, and I am convinced that we are the best team."

Mourinho was also asked about Bodo/Glimt's repeated allegations that Santos had provoked the post-match altercation last week, after the Norwegian team saw an appeal against their head coach's ban rejected by UEFA.

Bodo/Glimt have also accused Roma of "bombarding the media with untruths' related to the incident, but Mourinho refused to be drawn on such comments.

 "I don't have to think about it," Mourinho added. "UEFA are the ones who think about it. I don't decide, UEFA decide.

"I don't have anything to say about what Bodo/Glimt have had to say. If you only want to ask me about what others have said about different things, then I am not interested in doing that."

Roma will be looking to build upon a strong home record in European knockout ties as they attempt to reach the final four. The Giallorossi are unbeaten in their last 11 home games played in the knockout stage of European competitions (nine wins, two draws), scoring in each of those games and averaging 2.2 goals per game.

Wales are among the countries to have declared an interest in hosting the 2022-23 Nations League finals.

UEFA confirmed on Wednesday that the football associations of Wales, Belgium, Poland and Netherlands have all declared their interest in making a bid, with the deadline to submit final bid dossiers not until October 5.

The league phase begins in June 2022, and will run until September, with a break between then and June to allow for the remainder of the domestic season and the 2022 World Cup.

The hosts will be confirmed in January 2023, with the finals due to be held from June 14-18.

The draw for the competition took place in December, with 2018 World Cup finalists France and Croatia together in Group A1, Spain and Portugal among those in Group A2, and the trio of Italy, England and Germany featuring in Group A3.

Interestingly, the four nations to have declared an interest in hosting the finals have all been pitted against one another in Group A4.

Portugal staged the first edition of the tournament in 2019, while Italy hosted in 2021.

Bodo/Glimt head coach Kjetil Knutsen will miss Thursday's Europa League Conference clash with Roma after UEFA dismissed the club's appeal against his suspension.

The 53-year-old alleged Giallorossi goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos assaulted him in the tunnel after the Norwegian champions claimed a 2-1 first-leg win over Roma in the competition's quarter-finals last week.

UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary body then provisionally suspended both men from all European competitions on Monday while its investigation into the incident continued, leading Bodo/Glimt to lodge an appeal.

However, European football's governing body has upheld its previous decision, announcing Knutsen "is provisionally suspended for the next UEFA club competition matches in which he would otherwise participate until the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body decides on the merits of the case".

Bodo/Glimt professed themselves "surprised and shocked" by the original decision to issue a ban to Knutsen, who accused Santos of grabbing him by the neck and pushing him against a wall after the match.

Roma were also accused by their rivals of "bombarding the media with untruths" relating to the incident, while Knutsen said he "considered whether it was really a good idea to continue working in football" after the altercation.

Bodo/Glimt travel to Rome for the decisive second leg of the tie on Thursday, having won 10 and drawn eight of their last 18 away games in all competitions.

The visitors claimed a 2-2 draw on their previous visit to the Stadio Olimpico in November and are unbeaten in three clashes with Jose Mourinho's team this season, winning two and drawing one. The Norwegian team have scored 10 goals and conceded just four in their head-to-head clashes with the Giallorossi.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-UEFA boss Michel Platini will go on trial facing corruption charges in June, Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court (FCC) has confirmed.

The pair were last year charged with fraud and other offences by Swiss authorities relating to a payment made in 2011.

Switzerland's attorney general's office (OAG) published an indictment following an investigation that began in 2015.

Both men "are accused of unlawfully arranging a payment of CHF2million from FIFA to Michel Platini", the OAG said at the time.

The date for the trial to start has now been set for June 8, with proceedings set to last until June 22.

The case centres on a payment made by FIFA to Platini in 2011, authorised by Blatter, which the OAG alleges "was made without a legal basis".

The indictment alleges that Platini demanded this CHF2million payment more than eight years after his work as a consultant for Blatter between 1999 and 2002 had come to an end, and that it "damaged FIFA's assets and unlawfully enriched Platini".

According to the indictment, Platini had allegedly been paid by FIFA an annual fee of CHF300,000 for his consultancy work. This amount had been agreed upon in a written contract, the indictment said.

Blatter was originally banned from footballing activities for eight years, reduced to six, by FIFA in 2015 following an Ethics Committee investigation that described the payment as "disloyal". Platini was also given an eight-year suspension.

Both Blatter and Platini have denied any wrongdoing, with the former FIFA president stating there was a "gentleman's agreement" over the payment.

Blatter has been charged with fraud, misappropriation, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document. Platini has been charged with fraud, participating in misappropriation, participating in criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.

Bodo/Glimt head coach Kjetil Knutsen and Roma goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos have been provisionally suspended by UEFA following assault allegations.

Santos was accused of assaulting Knutsen in the tunnel after Jose Mourinho's men fell to a 2-1 first-leg defeat in their Europa League Conference quarter-final in Norway last Thursday. 

Both clubs released statements in the aftermath of the incident, with Roma announcing that they were cooperating with UEFA and local authorities to investigate the claims.

The Norwegian champions accused their opponents of "bombarding the media with untruths" relating to the altercation, and European football's governing body has since announced its decision on the matter.

Both coaches will be provisionally suspended from European fixtures until a further ruling is made on the case by UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body.

Knutsen alleged that Santos grabbed him by the neck and pushed him against a wall during a heated alteration outside the dressing rooms after the match.

The encounter marked the second time the Norwegian side have beaten Roma in this season's competition, with a first-half Lorenzo Pellegrini goal cancelled out by second-half strikes from Ulrik Saltnes and Hugo Vetlesen. 

Roma will attempt to overturn the first-leg deficit when they welcome Bodo/Glimt to the Stadio Olimpico for the crucial return leg on Thursday.

Clubs across Europe face renewed scrutiny of their spending on wages, transfers and agent fees after UEFA announced an overhaul of its financial fair play system.

UEFA's executive committee approved new club licensing and financial sustainability regulations at its meeting in Nyon as the first major reform since financial regulations were imposed in 2010.

The alterations focus on "solvency, stability and cost control" to promote financial sustainability, with the "squad cost" regulations – which come into place from June 2022 – limiting the spending of clubs.

Clubs will only be able to spend up to 70 per cent of revenue on wages, transfers and agent fees, with breaches resulting in "pre-defined financial penalties and sporting measures".

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the game, hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, needed to be prepared in case of "any potential future shock".

In terms of solvency, there will be greater protection for creditors – and punishments for late payers – with no overdue payables towards football clubs, employees, social and tax authorities and UEFA.

UEFA revealed further changes to the previous financial fair play (FFP) rulings, with football earnings – similar to break-even results – allowed to show an increased "deviation" from the previously permitted €30million over three years to €60m over the same time period. That is to aid the balance sheets of clubs, ensure the fair value of transactions and to reduce debts, UEFA said.

UEFA's FFP chief Philippe Rasmussen said in a news conference there was an additional €10million allowance in this area "for clubs that are in good financial health".

Ceferin said on Thursday: "UEFA's first financial regulations, introduced in 2010, served its primary purpose. They helped pull European football finances back from the brink and revolutionised how European football clubs are run.

"However, the evolution of the football industry, alongside the inevitable financial effects of the pandemic, has shown the need for wholesale reform and new financial sustainability regulations.

"UEFA has worked together with its stakeholders across European football to develop these new measures to help the clubs to address these new challenges.

"These regulations will help us protect the game and prepare it for any potential future shock while encouraging rational investments and building a more sustainable future for the game."

A campaign has been launched by Football Supporters Europe (FSE) calling on the European Union to safeguard football following last year's failed Super League plot.

The controversial proposal for a breakaway competition was announced last April but fell through two days later amid huge criticism from governing bodies and fan groups.

Premier League clubs Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham were first to withdraw, followed by Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid.

Despite multiple threats, including a possible ban on competing in the Champions League, Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona have stood by the doomed project.

The FSE has now unveiled a campaign called "Win it on the Pitch" with the aim of garnering one million signatures to encourage the European Commission to role out new laws.

The organisation wants action taken to protect the European model of sport and for fans to be involved in discussions to help shape the long-term future of sport.

"The super league fiasco proved that European sport is on the brink of catastrophe," a statement from the organisation read.

"Decades of mismanagement has left countless clubs, communities, and competitions vulnerable to hostile takeovers by predatory investors whose only aim is to make money.

"Enough is enough. We must turn the outpouring of indignation, solidarity, and common purpose that greeted the super league into a clear, practical, and long-term plan of action.

"Sport is a social good that belongs to everyone – not just the wealthy and the elite. 

"Now more than ever, it is crucial that the institutions of the European Union, Member States, and politicians work with fans and concerned citizens to safeguard football and other sports across the continent."

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dismissed the notion of Russia hosting Euro 2028 as "beyond satire", instead suggesting the tournament be awarded to Ukraine.

Russia launched a bid for either Euro 2028 or Euro 2032 on Wednesday, despite the country's ongoing invasion of their Eastern European neighbour.

That puts the 2018 World Cup hosts against a joint United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland bid for the former, an Italy bid for the latter and a Turkey bid for either event.

"The idea of Russia holding any idea of football tournament or any kind of cultural event right now is beyond satire," Johnson said in Brussels, where a Nato summit addressing Vladimir Putin's invasion is taking place.

"I can’t believe that anybody would seriously consider their suggestion."

Johnson appeared to forget that his own country had bid for Euro 2028 when he subsequently suggested the best path would be to hand it to Ukraine, who jointly hosted Euro 2012 with Poland.

"I think the best thing possible would be for the entire Russian forces to retire forthwith from Ukraine and hand the tournament to them," Johnson added.

Last year's rearranged Pan-European edition saw Italy triumph over England in a penalty shoot-out final at Wembley Stadium.

Hosts will be confirmed for 2028 and 2032 in September 2023, ahead of the next edition in Germany in 2024.

Russia has decided to apply to host Euro 2028 and Euro 2032 despite being banned from international football.

FIFA and UEFA suspended Russian national teams and clubs from competing following the country's invasion of Ukraine, pending an appeal the Russian Football Union (RFU) lodged to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Yet RFU executive committee member Sergey Anokhin has revealed Russia hopes to stage either the European Championship in 2028 or the next edition of the tournament four years later.

"The executive committee decided that we will apply for the European Championships in 2028 and Euro 2032," Anokhin said, as quoted by Sport Express.

The UK and Ireland submitted a joint expression of interest to host Euro 2028 ahead of Wednesday's deadline. It had been reported there would no rival bidders to the UK and Ireland for that tournament.

Russia hosted the World Cup four years ago, with France crowned champions.

 

UEFA has confirmed that the game between Italy and Argentina to be played on Wednesday, June 1 in the first "Finalissima" in 29 years, will take place at Wembley Stadium.

The match was initially announced in September, with confirmation in December that a "renewed and extended Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) lasting until 30 June 2028" had been signed between UEFA and CONMEBOL, leading to a game to be played in London on June 1.

The original iteration, pitting the winner of the most recent European Championship against the winner of the most recent Copa America, was previously known as the Artemio Franchi Trophy and was held in 1985 and 1993.

France beat Uruguay 2-0 in the inaugural edition in 1985, while the 1993 game saw Argentina – led by Diego Maradona – beat Denmark in a penalty shoot-out.

As had been expected, the venue for this year's encounter has now been confirmed as Wembley, where the capacity will be 86,000 and tickets sold on a "first-come, first-served basis".

A statement from UEFA on Tuesday confirmed that: "[It] will give fans the chance to watch the current champions of the world's two best footballing continents contest the coveted CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions.

"Twenty-nine years after its last edition, the relaunch of this legendary footballing encounter is the result of the long-standing partnership between UEFA and CONMEBOL and will serve as a catalyst for the global development of football – uniting countries, continents, and cultures, while also demonstrating to fans around the globe that football can be a force of good in turbulent times."

Wembley holds fond memories for Italy as the venue of their Euro 2020 final victory over England last year.

A request from Russia to freeze the ban on its football teams in FIFA competitions has been turned down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

CAS made a similar announcement on Tuesday regarding UEFA competitions, and this latest decision all but confirms that Russia will not be a part of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with their qualifying play-off semi-final due to be played next Thursday.

Russia had been scheduled to face Poland, but FIFA instead handed their opponents a bye to the final of their play-off route.

Poland will now play either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic each announced they would refuse to play Russia due to the ongoing events in Ukraine.

The Russian Football Union lodged an appeal to CAS after its clubs and national team were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice".

The joint-decision taken by FIFA and UEFA followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago.

Russia "categorically disagreed" with the ban and submitted its appeal, while also seeking an initial stay of execution.

However, CAS confirmed on Friday that it has rejected that request, confirming that "the Challenged Decision remains in force" during proceedings.

A media release from CAS read: "The President of the Appeals Arbitration Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected the request filed by the Football Union of Russia (FUR) to stay, for the duration of the CAS proceedings, the execution of the FIFA Council's decision to suspend all Russian teams and clubs from participation in its competitions until further notice (the Challenged decision).

"Accordingly, the Challenged Decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in FIFA competitions. The CAS arbitration proceedings continue. A Panel of arbitrators is currently being constituted and the parties are exchanging written submissions. No hearing has been fixed yet."

Poland have been awarded a bye through to the World Cup qualifying play-off final following the postponement of their clash with Russia.

FIFA confirmed the news on Tuesday, though Russia have indicated that they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against a ban on its national teams from competing.

Should the decision be upheld, Poland will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

That 'Path B' final will be held at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow on March 29.

FIFA's decision comes on the back of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic announcing last week they would each refuse to play Russia due to ongoing events in Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday 24 following weeks of rising political tensions in the region, with more than two million citizens fleeing the country.

Meanwhile, FIFA has also confirmed that Ukraine's 'Path A' semi-final with Scotland at Hampden Park, scheduled for March 24, will now take place in June.

Ukraine requested that the game be pushed back due to "the impossibility of organising both the travel and training of a team under the current circumstances".

The other semi-final in that side of the draw, the clash between Wales and Austria in Cardiff on the same day, will go ahead as planned.

However, the final will be postponed until after the Scotland and Ukraine game is played.

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