UEFA’s top clubs “are considering the idea of hosting some Champions League games in the US, China or the Middle East,” according to a new claim.
This week, the UEFA Executive Committee meets in Hvar, Croatia ahead of the European Club Association (ECA) General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey.
These conferences are an opportunity for clubs and leaders to find ways to grow football and increase revenue across the game in a post-Covid world.
Now The Athletic believe there will be serious discussions about bringing some of the Champions League’s best games out of Europe and into other markets.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi – chairman of the ECA and member of the UEFA Executive Committee – supports the plan.
The plan is to give the global fanbase of some of the continent’s biggest clubs easier access to “meaningful matches” – sources say this initially refers to games in the group stages.
It’s just a suggestion, however – one that would no doubt infuriate fanbases across Europe, who weren’t afraid to make their voices heard amid the failed European Super League affair.
The collapse of the Super League meant that UEFA gave its leading clubs more power and they hope to capitalize on that with these intercontinental talks.
Other options on the table include a four-team ‘opening tournament’ featuring last season’s Champions League winners and the UEFA Super Cup outside of Europe.
The Champions League is currently in the midst of one of its final group stages before moving from the traditional 32-team tournament to a “Swiss-style format” of 36 teams from 2024.
Last week, the ECA released a report showing that a third of Chinese football fans and 28% of US fans were prompted by major competitions to follow the sport.
The report states: “This underscores that there are opportunities for European clubs and competitions to build on this interest and influence; increase the availability of European club football to these audiences and enable presence at these events to build further and deeper interest and engagement.’
Also featured at this week’s ECA Summit will be Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who has expanded his audience around the world through devices like Drive to Survive.