UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has fired back at complaints from top managers over the domestic and international fixture scheduling, defending the governing body’s actions and insisting that only ‘factory workers’ have reason to moan.
Both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have openly aired their grievances over the crush of games their players have been forced to endure, and UEFA have also come under fire for their controversial restructure of the Champions League.
Ceferin, however, has hit back at elite bosses, telling them they have no cause to complain and claiming clubs are not willing to take the steps required themselves.
‘It’s easy always to attack FIFA and UEFA, but the thing is simple,’ Ceferin told Gazetta dello Sport. ‘If you play less, you get less money.
‘Who should complain are the factory workers who get €1,000 (£861) per month.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has hit back at complaints over fixtures from managers
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been vocal over the toll taken on his players by game pile-ups
‘Everyone wants more cup games, but nobody gives up on anything. Clubs wanted 10 games in the Champions League group stage.
‘They’ll have eight, it’s the right number.
‘Domestic leagues should have 18 clubs, but the presidents do not agree. They should understand that two domestic cups are too many.’
After Liverpool’s FA Cup win over Chelsea in May, Klopp embarked on a lengthy rant about the high-intensity run of matches for his stars, and directly referenced UEFA.
Earlier this year, Klopp even directly name-dropped UEFA and hit out at the Nations League
‘The reason I am not in such a good mood when I speak about UEFA is because of the Nations League,’ he said.
‘I still think it is one of the most ridiculous ideas in the world of football because now we finish a season where [some] players have played more than 70 games.’
He was also irritated after his team were made to play a league game just three days after their Wembley appearance, which saw the Reds taken all the way to penalties.
Klopp added: ‘It’s tough but it’s better you moan and argue when you have won something than when you lose.
Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, admitted players striking could be necessary
‘I will sit here and say it and people will say, “Stop whining!” No-one else is doing it, you don’t think about it for a second. “It’s tough, huh? Maybe it would be better if you play on Thursday.” 120 minutes and then Tuesday, come on. It’s massive.’
Meanwhile, Guardiola has also shared views similar to those of Klopp’s, and even suggested that the players going on strike and refusing to play may be necessary.
‘The problem is the fixtures,’ he said last December, ahead of the hectic holiday period. ‘The calendar, 365 days a year with international duties for the national team, huge competitions with a lot of games.
‘The players have two or three weeks of holiday in the summer and it’s the season again. This is too much.
Ceferin also spoke about the Champions League reforms, insisting they will be ‘spectacular’
‘Should the players and the managers be all together together and make a strike, or something, because just through words it’s not going to be solved? For FIFA, the Premier League, the broadcasters… the business is more important than the welfare.’
In his interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Ceferin also explained more about the looming Champions League changes, adding: ‘Today, you can already predict who will play in the Round of 16 after the draw.
‘In the future, big clubs will meet more frequently, smaller clubs will have more chances to qualify and the group will be fought until the end.
‘It will be spectacular, 2024 is tomorrow.’