UEFA president on failed Super League, Champions League bans & why he loves upsetting Florentino Perez

22 April 2021 11:45

It's been a busy few days for UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

After calling Juventus' Andrea Agnelli and Manchester United's Ed Woodward 'snakes and liars' after being blindsided by their Super League plans, Ceferin ended up on the winning side as the rebel teams agreed to stick to the status quo instead.

Ceferin gave his celebratory interview to Slovenian outlet 24UR, and here's what he had to say.

On why the Super League failed

"It was a combination of different factors. It first started with our statement along with the leagues and other clubs when we strongly opposed the establishment of this league. It was a Sunday afternoon. They came in at night with a press release and we had an executive committee in the morning, we approved all the changes and after that I had a press conference where I discussed everything as openly as possible.

"After that came a response from the office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson. French president [Emmanuel] Macron came forward very quickly. But most of all, of course, the fans helped. They staged a real revolution and did not allow themselves to be despised, ignored and thought they could be bought. "

On how Agnelli betrayed him

Ceferin called Agnelli a 'snake' for his role | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

"[After rumours emerged] I got calls from five of the 12 clubs, all of whom apologised to me but said they had to sign the deal or else they would have been left behind. I called Agnelli right away, but he didn't answer.

"Eventually, I got him on the phone and asked him what was happening. He said 'This is bulls**t', it's not true'. I said we should make a statement to the public, and he asked me to make a first draft and get back to him.

"I tried draft after draft but he kept saying he didn't like it, that he would change it and call me back. This was on the Saturday night, but the call never came."

On whether he should have seen this coming

"I may have been naïve, but I always say it's better to be naïve than a liar. I'm just naïve."

On upsetting Florentino Perez

Real Madrid president Perez isn't Ceferin's biggest fan | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

"[The fact he does not like me] is an even bigger incentive for me to stay. He wants a president who would obey him, who would listen to him and who would do as he thinks. And I try to do as I think is good for European and world football.

"I don't know, it's possible they underestimated me. Certainly, if someone goes into a project like this, so unverified, then they underestimate not only me, but the whole situation. After all, these people are very rich, so I was amazed they didn't know what they were into. The fact is, I don't expect anyone in football to underestimate me in the future."

On why he forgives Barcelona

Ceferin believes Laporta's hands were tied | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

"To some extent I was disappointed by everyone, but I must say that maybe Barcelona hurt me least. [Joan] Laporta was elected a very short time ago and I spoke to him two or three times. He was under considerable pressure due to the financial situation of his football club, and he inherited it - it was not his fault that the situation was like that, so he was obviously under a lot of pressure, but at the same time, as a cunning negotiator, he secured an exit strategy.

"Clubs have always had losses, but some are because they are poorly run. If you overpay players, unsuitable players, and therefore do not achieve a result, it means a loss.

"For example, Bayern Munich has no loss and won the Champions League. So it is not always to be blamed only on COVID-19, which is blamed by many, but as the president of the German league also said, poor club management."

On kicking Real Madrid out of the Champions League

"The important thing is that the season has already started. Television and broadcasting companies can claim damages against us if we don't play the semi-finals.

"Therefore, there is a relatively small chance that Real Madrid vs Chelsea will not take place, but it will be a little different in the future."

On rumours UEFA paid English sides to withdraw

Ceferin laughed off the idea of paying English sides | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

"I have no way of finding billions to offer to the English clubs. Besides, if I offered them billions, the clubs would not have apologised, but would instead insist they had won.

"They know they made a mistake, they called me and I respect that. You have to be big to admit a mistake and that's why I have more respect for these clubs than for those who insist on something that doesn't exist. It's actually quite funny."

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Source: 90min