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Volume 10 No. 25

Leagues and Governing Bodies

UEFA President Michel Platini has said that expanding the Champions League to 64 teams and scrapping the Europa League is "an option amid a wide-ranging debate over the future of its club competitions," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Platini said that a proposal "was under discussion" about scrapping the Europa League and doubling the size of the Champions League. Platini: "There is an ongoing debate to determine what form the European competitions will have between 2015 and 2018. We're discussing it, we will make a decision in 2014. Nothing is decided yet." However, such a "radical move" is considered unlikely because it would "reduce the number of teams in European competition overall and risk diluting the appeal of the Champions League" (GUARDIAN, 11/28).

BIG MONEY: In London, Mark Cue wrote when Platini was asked if he was concerned about the clubs setting up their own competition, he replied: “It doesn’t worry me. I can’t see how it could work outside the UEFA framework. Who will referee them? In what stadiums will they play?” Europe’s top clubs are "known to be in favour of more high-profile fixtures between them." Only last week, Barcelona President Sandro Rosell called for the main domestic leagues in Europe to be cut to accommodate “a bigger Champions League.” It is "easy to see why there is such strong support for the competition." Chelsea received £49M ($78M) as they became champions of Europe last season (LONDON TIMES, 11/28).

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: In London, Simon Rice reported another proposal consideration is "offering a place in the Champions League as a prize for winning the Europa League." The prize may encourage teams, many of which rest players for Europa League matches, to "take the competition more seriously." Also under review is the current format which sees teams finishing third in the Champions League group stage dropping into the Europa League's last-32. The practice has "often been criticised for devaluing the Europa League as well as being unfair on those that have battled through the group stages to make the later round" (INDEPENDENT, 11/28).

A divided Asian Football Confederation is gathering for its annual awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday "amid an increasingly toxic atmosphere." Suspended President Mohamed bin Hammam has called those in charge "puppets" and claims he has the support of most AFC national associations. On Thursday, Asian football will reveal its player, coach and team of '12 but "beyond the glitter and red carpet will be more intense political maneuvers, as the AFC's decision-making Exec Committee meets to discuss the Bin Hammam imbroglio that has now dragged on for 18 months" (AP, 11/28). ...  The Int'l Rugby Board has welcomed the UAE Rugby Federation as a full member union after council approved its application during its meeting in Dublin, Ireland (UAERF). ... The official ball for the U-21 UEFA European Championship was unveiled Wednesday in Tel-Aviv. The ball is designed in the blue and white colors of the host country Israel. It earned praise for its "eye-catching and modern look" (UEFA).