The winner of Europa League will be rewarded with a place in the following season’s Champions League from 2015 onwards as part of an attempt by Uefa to make its secondary competition more attractive.
Uefa is set to announce the incentive at its annual congress in London on Friday, the change having been agreed at Thursday’s meeting of the executive committee. The major leagues will be allowed up to five participants in the Champions League, meaning the Europa League winner will not take a place at the expense of another club from its domestic league. Should an English club win the competition it would bring an extra place in the Champions League whereas in the past it has meant the fourth-placed domestic side was edged out as happened to Tottenham when Chelsea won the Champions League last year.
The move is designed to make clubs take the Europa League more seriously from the start of the competition while also answering the European Clubs’ Association’s concerns over teams losing European places as Tottenham did.
Friday’s congress in London will also ratify the decision to introduce a 10-match ban for racism. It is a move that is likely to see the Football Association come under pressure to re-think its newly-agreed five-match ban for discriminatory offences as the vote will be accompanied by a resolution that national associations adopt the “same or similar” sanctions.
Last week the FA announced its new measures to combat racism and other forms of discrimination, declaring themselves “world leaders” on the issue. The range of sanctions available to the FA is greater, with the ultimate punishment a life ban, but it is the difference in starting points that is marked.
The 10-match ban will apply to all European competitions from 1 June, starting with the European Under-21 Championships. Uefa cannot compel the FA to adopt its 10-game ban but England’s governing body, which has sought to take a lead in dealing with racism, will face calls to do so. The FA said last week that it would wait and see what Uefa decided before considering its response.
“The FA is absolutely autonomous,” said Gianni Infantino, Uefa’s general secretary. “They know for themselves what is best for England to do to fight against racism. England is probably one of the countries where the most has been done to fight against racism. If the FA have shown their way of regulating is correct for England, then that is their decision. Everyone must do whatever they can in this field.”