UEFA president criticises FIFA and calls for 'apolitical' Euro 2024
European football's governing body, UEFA, wants next summer's European Championships in Germany to remain free of political discussions, president Aleksander Ceferin said last weekend. He referred to the controversy surrounding last year's World Cup in Qatar and criticised FIFA for its decision to organise a tournament in winter.
"I want an environment free of controversy, with a free choice of captain's armband," Ceferin told German media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland in the context of the Euro 2024 draw in Hamburg last weekend.
He was referring to last year's World Cup controversy, when hosts Qatar pressured FIFA into banning the "One Love" captain's armband, a symbol of anti-discrimination. Seven European countries, including Belgium, were banned from wearing the rainbow armband because it would offend the Qatari authorities. FIFA then demanded changes to Belgium's away shirt because the word "love" was printed on the inside.
"We are doing everything we can to combat all forms of discrimination and abuse," said Ceferin. "Nobody should use the tournament for their personal or political agenda."
Winter World Cup 'not good for football'
He also said the decision to hold the World Cup in winter was a mistake. "I am sure of one thing: the winter World Cup was not good for football and it would be unwise to repeat it. It overloads the season," he said.
World Cups are usually organised in the summer, but the temperatures in Qatar at that time of year would have been too high. However, there will almost certainly be another winter World Cup in 2034, with Saudi Arabia expected to host the tournament.
Euro 2024 will take place from 17 June to 17 July. Belgium have been drawn in Group E where they will face Slovakia, Romania and one of Israel, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ukraine and Iceland.
© FRANCK FIFE / AFP