UEFA focused on money, not listening to players, managers

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said UEFA is focusing on money only and ignoring managers and players after some of the game’s biggest clubs tried to break away from European football’s governing body this week.

Barca were one of 12 teams from Spain, England and Italy to announce their part in a European Premier League on Sunday. That project has since fallen into disrepair after all six English sides involved withdrew on Tuesday.

UEFA, meanwhile, passed a resolution to expand this week’s Champions League from 32 teams to 36, which will see teams playing 10 group games instead of the six they currently play. Sixteen teams then move on to the knock-out stages.

“It’s unbelievable what players have to play in the last few years in each competition,” Koeman said at a news conference when asked about the changes being suggested by UEFA and the Super League.

“Everybody’s talking about Super League or a [new] Champions League or a different way of playing in Europe. UEFA talks a lot, but it doesn’t make or listen to the football people, not the managers or the players, about the number of games. The most important to them is the money.

“Even in Spain, the number of games we need to play – tomorrow we play at 10 pm [CEST] – it’s not always all that positive for players. I think that’s the most important. It’s normal to think about the future of football but first and foremost they have to protect the football players. “

Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan followed six English sides in leaving the European Premier League on Wednesday, while AC Milan and Juventus both released statements recognizing that it is unlikely to move forward in its current format.

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However, Real Madrid, whose president Florentino Perez was supposed to be chairman of the league, and Barca have not yet made any comment on the flagging project.

Sources in Barca told ESPN ahead of the Koeman news conference that the club had “no plans” to make any additional league announcements.

New president Joan Laporta has not yet spoken about the issue, though he met with four first-team captains, including Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique, to discuss the project on Wednesday.

A source says they have agreed to wait and see what happens next, but everyone was unanimous that any final decision to enter a new competition would require the approval of the club members by ballot.

Barca’s silence meant Koeman was left to act as a moving spokesman on Wednesday. He was reluctant to comment on the plans but said he agreed with a tweet from defender Pique, who said: “football for the fans, today is bigger than ever.”

“I spoke to the president [on Tuesday] and explained the club’s position, “added the Dutch coach.” But a lot has changed since then. It’s best not to say much now, no one knows what will happen.

“What I want most is the best for this club but I agree with Pique’s tweet.”

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