Uefa president accuses clubs of greed

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The Independent Online

Members of G14, the grouping of élite European clubs, want Fifa, football's world governing body, and Uefa, the sport's European authority, to pay players' salaries during World Cups and European Championships.

G14 - which includes Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal - are backing Belgian club Charleroi in an ongoing court case against Fifa, claiming that rules which make clubs release players to national associations without payment are illegal.

Johansson, who is also a Fifa vice-president, claims that such a move would serve only to make the big clubs even richer as Fifa and Uefa use money from major tournaments to distribute to the grass-roots.

Speaking here ahead of Uefa's executive committee meeting, Johansson said: "Too many people involved in football, clubs and individuals, are too greedy. It's a big problem that too many people see football as a business. Football is a sport and a social question and we have to be very careful to take care of it for the younger generation.

"The Champions' League gives the clubs the opportunity to make much more money than they did on an individual basis but still gives us the opportunity to take 30-40% to give back to the member associations."

Uefa's executive committee will today drop two of the five bids for the 2012 European Championships, and Italy, Greece and Turkey are expected to make the cut. A joint bid by Hungary/Croatia could possibly oust Greece to make it on to the shortlist but the Poland/Ukraine bid is accepted to have little chance of making it.

Italy are early favourites, especially if they can show they have tackled their crowd trouble problem. A final decision will not be taken until December 2006.

* Middlesbrough defender Abel Xavier will go before a Uefa disciplinary hearing on 17 November. The Portugal international is understood to have tested positive for an anabolic steroid. Xavier is expected to claim the positive test was due to a legal food supplement that was contaminated.

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