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UEFA passes resolution against G14

Written by: Staff
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BUDAPEST, Mar 23 (Reuters) Europe's football associations have stepped up their opposition to the G14 organisation, vowing to defend the sport's interests in the face of recent challenges from ''a self-appointed group of clubs''.

At a meeting of the UEFA Congress in Budapest today, the associations unanimously approved a resolution aimed at fighting what it called ''closed shop'' football.

''Football is about fairness, opportunity, excitement and variety,'' insisted the resolution, which was brought to the Congress by UEFA's Executive Committee.

''It is not a closed shop, where only the richest and most powerful are invited to the table.'' G14, whose members include Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Juventus, is pitted against UEFA, world governing body FIFA and the national associations in a court case in Charleroi, Belgium.

The group, which now comprises 18 European clubs, wants the regulations surrounding the compulsory release of players for international matches changed and clubs compensated if players are injured turning out for their countries.

It also wants executive representation within UEFA and more cash from the game's governing bodies, including from the European Championship and World Cup. It has denied it wants to set up a breakaway elite league in Europe.

While not naming G14 explicitly, the UEFA resolution said that the ''self-appointed group of clubs are not interested in protecting competition, but only interested in protecting themselves and their economic interests and in dictating their conditions on others.'' In a speech to the Congress ahead of today's vote, UEFA president Lennart Johansson argued that G14 was looking to ''flout the fundamental principles of democracy by pompously proclaiming themselves to be 'the voice of the clubs'.'' In passing the resolution, UEFA said it would defend the right of smaller clubs to participate in European competitions, fight to maintain the current rules on the international release of players and defend the central marketing structure of its lucrative Champions League competition.

REUTERS PDS PM1753

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