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Is USA set to host a Champions League final? | Aleksander Ceferin: It's possible!

Published at :April 26, 2023 at 4:21 AM
Modified at :April 26, 2023 at 4:21 AM
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Rajarshi Shukla

The head of UEFA is open to hosting UCL matches in America

Aleksander Ceferin, head of UEFA, said that he is open to a dialogue regarding holding important Champions League matches in the United States.

Ceferin said he would not rule out hosting a portion of the most-watched yearly football event outside of Europe in an exclusive interview with "Men in Blazers," according to Roger Bennett.

Ceferin originally suggested the possibility of European clubs playing mid-season games in America in 2016.Last fall's UEFA ExCo meetings in Croatia and subsequently the European Club Association gatherings in Istanbul both featured new discussions on the subject.

Ceferin, however, stated to the media in September that there had been no talks regarding holding Champions League fixtures outside of Europe.

"It is possible [Champions League in U.S.]," Ceferin said. "We started to discuss about that, but then one year it is World Cup, 2024 is Euro, this year is Istanbul, '24 in London, '25 in Munich. And after that let's see. It's possible, it's possible."

"I would be aware if there was any discussion about the playing of Champions [League] matches outside of Europe and I don't know anything with respect to that," he told Europa Press.

"Football is extremely popular in United States these days," he added. "Americans are willing to pay this amount [gestures high with hand] for best and nothing for the less. So they will follow European football as basketball lovers in Europe follow NBA.

"It's a very important promising market for the future. The thing is that we are selling rights very well. Sponsorship is so-so for now from the U.S., but here [in U.S.] commercialisation is completely different than in Europe. They [Americans] are much more talented for that than us [Europeans]."

"Fans will still think in a way, these bastards in Switzerland, it's all about money, and I repeat thousand times, we redistribute 97% of the money [to the clubs and the nations]," he said. "Of course our revenues are huge. I would love them to be much, much bigger than now."

"What shocked me actually is that our Euro [2020] finals, Europe national team finals, was watched by more people in United States than NBA Finals," he said. "What shocked me is that 30 matches of the Euros, every match viewership was a Super Bowl viewership. So I think we are doing well."

"The problem is that the time difference, because if you play Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 3 o'clock ET, noon in L.A. Pacific part, it's a problem," he said. "We would have much bigger viewership if hours will be different."

Ceferin informed Bennett last week that he was aware of the dollar magnitude of the American sports market.

Ceferin has often bragged that UEFA generates more money than FIFA, and the fiscal figures confirm it once again in 2023. UEFA is estimated to generate $6.9 billion in yearly income, which is around three times as much as FIFA. Ceferin said that he sees the potential for expansion of U.S. TV rights in that regard.

In the United States, viewers of Euro 2020, which was postponed by a year due to the worldwide outbreak, recorded 1.36 million for all 51 games and 8.2 million for the final.

He claimed that his recent trip to the United States had made him aware of the development of the sport and the rising popularity of the Champions League brand.

With CBS, Viacom, and Paramount, UEFA agreed to a six-year, $1.5 billion contract in 2022 for the English-language U.S. broadcast rights to its club championships, which includes the Champions League.

Additionally covered by the agreement, which begins in 2024–2025, are the Europa League and the Europa Conference League. Compared to UEFA's prior U.S. television deal, which pulled in $100 million every season, its yearly worth of $250 million represents a huge rise.

The Champions League will change to a 36-team, single-league system starting in 2024–25. Each club will compete in 10 matches in the first round, with the top eight clubs moving on to the knockout phases. Clubs in the ninth through 24th positions will compete in a playoff round to secure a place in the round-of-16 tournament.

In conjunction with the United States hosting the 2026 World Cup in cooperation with Mexico and Canada, the new agreement will increase the amount of football available in the American market.

Real Madrid and Liverpool's 2022 Champions League final drew an unprecedented 2.76 million English-speaking spectators to CBS in the US. 2.1 million people watched the Chelsea vs. Manchester City championship game on CBS in 2021.

Ceferin faced his largest challenge in April 2021 when several of Europe's leading teams sought to organise a European Super League. Ceferin won re-election without opposition for a fifth and final term in 2023.

The 55-year-old Slovenian attorney also spearheaded UEFA's opposition to FIFA's intentions to stage the World Cup every two years rather than every four.