UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has defended the decision to hold this year's Europa League final in Baku and criticised English clubs over persistent complaints, APA reports citing Mirror.
The governing body was widely criticised for choosing the Azerbaijan capital as the location for the European showpiece between Premier League duo Arsenal and Chelsea , which Maurizio Sarri's side won 4-1.
Many fans were unable to attend the match due to ticketing and travel issues, meaning that both clubs failed to sell all of the 6,000 tickets they were allocated. However, Ceferin insisted that there would not have been an issue if the situation had been reversed and warned English clubs that their regular criticisms don't help their image across the continent.
"I was supported by 76 per cent of the (European) federations in my first (UEFA) election but not England. England supported the other candidate." Ceferin said during a talk at Oxford University.
"Whenever we have English clubs, whenever we have complaints, they’re mad! You don’t help yourself in the popularity within European football with that. If somebody asks me why we played in Baku, I would say: 'People live there. Homo sapiens live there.' They had to watch the game at 11pm because of the time difference but nobody complained. If we have two Azerbaijani teams playing in London nobody would complain. They would come and play without any problems. We decided a year and a half ago that we play in Baku, which has a modern stadium of 70,000. I think there is only one stadium in England that is bigger. So you should see the happiness, the humbleness of people when they see live the superstars they like. We have to develop football everywhere not England, Germany only."
Despite saying that he has no plans to change the UEFA's policy for selecting the location for the Europa League final, Ceferin admitted he is considering limiting the venue of the Champions League final to Europe's biggest stadiums to deal with the overwhelming demand.