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© RIA Novosti. Alexey Danichev

FIFA, UEFA to reject Russia-Ukraine league - minister

by R-Sport at 26/02/2013 16:33

FIFA and UEFA will block any proposals for a joint Russian-Ukrainian football league, Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Tuesday.
Many of Russia’s top clubs, backed by a top Kremlin official and state gas firm Gazprom, are pushing to create the cross-border league to unlock extra revenue, ostensibly to help them comply with new financial fair play rules.
“Here we have the Champions League and the Europa League and obviously neither FIFA nor UEFA will be interested in the appearance of any new competition,” said Mutko, a former Russian FA head who doubles as a member of FIFA’s executive committee.
“And from a sporting point of view I see no logic in this here. We have our league and we should concentrate on that. If there are any financial resources, let’s put them into Russian football.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called the plans “impossible,” while UEFA told R-Sport last week it would consider approving the plans if the Russian and Ukrainian national football federations agree.
The proposed Unified Football Championship would see 80 clubs from Russia and Ukraine combined into a four-division structure, with future expansion into other post-Soviet countries, Gazprom head Alexei Miller told a meeting of Russian clubs last week.
The tournament would have a total budget of $1 billion annually, with $800 million of that sum spent on the 18-club top division, Miller said.
UEFA has allowed regional club competitions before, but they did not seek to replace national leagues, as the proposed Super League would.
The Royal League brought together clubs from Norway, Denmark and Sweden between 2004 and 2007, but attracted scant interest from fans because it did not offer European qualification and clubs often fielded weakened teams.
The only current cross-border competition approved by UEFA is an ongoing three-year trial of a multinational league for Belgian and Dutch women’s football, set to run until 2015.
Gazprom has been a major sponsor of UEFA's main club competition, the Champions League, since July.

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