The Danish football association has lambasted UEFA’s decision to change the format of the Champions League starting from the 2018-19 season.
Jesper Møller, the head of DBU, criticised the European footballing governing organisation’s move as being far too hasty and lacking any kind of debate leading up to the decision – particularly considering the organisation does not having a permanent president in place.
Four a piece
The changes mean the four top footballing nations on UEFA’s ranking list (Germany, Italy, England and Spain) will be guaranteed four teams in the Champions League group stage, compared to the current format in which the top three nations have three teams automatically qualify for the group stage and the fourth best nation two.
It means that it will become more difficult for champions of smaller nations, such as Denmark, to qualify for the group stages.
According to UEFA, “the amendments are the result of a wide-ranging consultative process involving all European football stakeholders, taking into account a wide range of expertise and perspectives.”
Appeasing the giants
It was widely reported in August that UEFA would approve the changes to appease the demands of big clubs threatening to form their own Super League.
UEFA held talks with the European Club Association, which replaced the G14/G-18 group of elite clubs in 2008. Since then, seven Danish clubs have joined as members: FC Copenhagen, FCM, Brøndby, AaB, OB, Nordsjælland and Esbjerg.
“European football remains united behind the concepts of solidarity, fair competition, fair distribution and good governance,” continued UEFA.
“UEFA, the clubs, the leagues and the national associations speak with one voice on these matters and we are looking forward to continuing our fruitful relationship.”
New thinking or nepotism?
But that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least according to the Danish football association DBU.
“I am very displeased with what happened concerning the Champions League,” Jesper Møller, the head of DBU, told Ekstra Bladet tabloid.
“No-one saw this coming. There was no pre-emptive debate, but someone has apparently managed to push it through. And why wasn’t there any vote?”
Møller said he would discuss the changes with the three UEFA presidential candidates, Aleksander Ceferin, (Slovenia), Michael van Praag (the Netherlands) and Angel Villar Llona (Spain), when they come to Copenhagen on Thursday looking for support from the six Nordic nations: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Faroe Islands.
UEFA’s executive committee approved the changes. Llona and van Praag, who are both part of the excom, voted for the move, according to the Danish committee member Allan Hansen, who tried unsuccessfully to get the decision postponed.
DBU has already voiced its support for the third candidate, Ceferin.
Read all about UEFA’s decision to change the Champions League here (in English).
Under-21s on the brink
In related news, the Danish under-21 national team could qualify for the 2017 European Championships in Poland this evening.
The Danes thrashed Wales 4-0 away on Friday and are comfortable leaders in Group 5 with 19 points, with a game in hand and three points ahead of Romania, who they face tonight in Aalborg.
The kick-off is at 18:45, and the match will be shown on DR3.