Celtic cited in UEFA chief's impassioned speech

By Euan Davidson

April 20, 2021

Celtic have been cited as an example of the beauty of European competition by UEFA.

In what can either be seen as a pat on the head or a legitimate argument (or both), UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin spoke to delegates at the UEFA Congress this morning.

UEFA are currently firefighting the creation of The Super League. Top European competitors, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool look likely to create their own top tier. That puts the governing body in a tough spot, watching on as serial CL winners build their own clubhouse.

Celtic were used as an argument of for the “dream” of the Champions League. That’s despite UEFA forcing league Champions like Celtic and Ajax through multiple qualifying rounds.

Ceferin told delegates [via BBC reporter Simon Stone]:

“UEFA competitions needs Atalanta, Celtic, Rangers, Dinamo Zagreb and Galatasaray. People to know everyone has a chance. We need to keep the dream alive. Big clubs now were not necessarily big clubs in past and no guarantee there will be big in future.”

Insert your own joke here / (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

So what now for UEFA, Celtic and our direct European rivals?

Again: very interesting that UEFA, who have moved the goalposts for us time and again, are singing our praises. It’d be easy to write this off as someone googling “previous CL winners” and putting it in a speech.

Nonetheless, Ceferin is right. If you’re into just watching behemoth clubs fight each other week-in, week-out, watch Transformers instead. It’s the unpredictability and romance of football that its main appeal. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in some late-round Champions League play, sure. Equally, there’s nothing against watching the best players in the world square off.

But every week? No. Us beating Barcelona in 2012 already lives longer in the memory than last season’s final. Atalanta’s incredible run, Ajax upsetting the odds with Academy talent. Those are the things that stay with you; the unlikely wins, the big boys getting a bloody nose.

Football moves in cycles. If you’d suggested 10 years ago that Tottenham were an “elite club”, you’d get laughed out of the pub. You could argue they’re still not, now, but that’s by the by. The point is, football isn’t mechanical. It’s not just about watching the players with the highest salaries square off. There’s no stakes there, it doesn’t mean anything as much for these clubs.

So, while it can be read as a little patronising, and it’s still a joke that UEFA are somehow the “good guys” in this, Ceferin is right. As an organisation, they still need to show massive accountability, and it’s a bloated body that is desperate for huge reform.

Yet, we find each other in the same corner. What a strange time to be alive.

READ MORE: What does all this mean for us?