KIEV, Ukraine — UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin hopes future Champions League finals will be more “fan-friendly” thanks to the tender process put in place by the organisation for prospective host cities.
Logistical problems have plagued many fans traveling to Kiev for Saturday’s final due to limited capacity at the Ukrainian capital’s airports, as have high prices for hotel rooms and other accommodation. There have also been reports of price-gouging in the Ukrainian capital. Last year, in Cardiff, there were similar issues, owing to a lack of hotel rooms that forced many to stay as much as an hour away.
But Ceferin told ESPN FC that such problems could soon be eliminated thanks to his changes made under his presidency.
“First of all, Kiev was appointed as the host [city] for the Champions League final one day after I was elected… it was the only proposal, so we could just choose the only candidate,” he said. “Later, we changed the procedure. We have a strict bidding procedure. There are pluses and minuses to that, but the only minus is that it takes a political tool [away] from the president.”
According to Ceferin, new procedures — used to award the 2019 final to Madrid and 2020 to Istanbul — consider infrastructure, ease of travel and hotel capacity in ways that often did not apply in the past.
“We have an evaluation report from our administration about every single point of the bid and then the Executive Committee votes,” Ceferin said.
He indicated that he was less concerned if this meant that only a limited number of cities would get to host a final.
“For me the Champions League final — and, not just for me, but objectively — is the single biggest sports event in the world,” he said. “So it has to be in places that are capable of hosting it. If that means that it goes more than once, twice or three times to the same big cities, it’s still OK. It has to be the top of the top. It has to be user-friendly, fan-friendly. It has to be big enough that prices don’t go sky high as has happened not just this year, but last year and in years before. It should be only in venues that are capable of organising everything, not just the match.”
Ceferin added that some aspects of the Super Bowl, with its weeklong build-up, could also be integrated into the event.
“It’s an interesting idea, although American sports are different than European sports,” he said. “But I was at the Super Bowl last year; it’s an interesting event. We would have to adapt it to the European view on sports, because we are a bit different, but it’s still a good idea. And why not have more days as part of it? Already, with the Women’s Champions League final on Thursday, it’s an event that lasts half a week, so why not?”
Gabriele Marcotti is a senior writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Marcotti.