UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has hit out at Emmanuel Macron after the French president’s criticism of proposed changes to the Champions League.
“It’s a political interference into sports. It’s not appropriate,” Ceferin said at the FIFA Congress on Wednesday in Paris, where Gianni Infantino was re-elected unopposed for a second term as president of the game’s world governing body.
Macron spoke as he met with the France women’s team on Tuesday at their base near Paris, with the World Cup beginning in the French capital on Friday.
He attacked the planned changes to the Champions League, which would see the biggest clubs effectively guaranteed qualification and very few places left for the rest.
“It’s impolite to come to the opening ceremony before the women’s World Cup and speak completely about other topics,” said Ceferin.
“But this is not our problem and of course any political interference will not influence it.”
The changes to the Champions League, which would turn Europe’s leading club competition into something close to a closed continental super league for the elite, would come in from 2024. They have so far met with widespread resistance.
“We must defend our model, our clubs,” Macron said. “I do not think it is a good idea to sacrifice the viability of our model for the benefit of a few.”
Earlier, the president of the French Football Federation appeared to distance himself from Macron’s remarks.
“I think that FIFA and UEFA are in harmony, and that the federation is in harmony with UEFA, and that interventions from outside, whatever they might be, are uncalled for,” said Noel Le Graet.