Berlin: The Champions League has "killed off" other competitions but UEFA has no plans for change, European soccer boss Michel Platini said on Saturday as he also again criticised Qatar over the 2022 World Cup. The wealth generated by the prestigious Champions League in Europe has meant the Europa League, UEFA's second continent-wide club competition, has struggled to grab the headlines while smaller domestic championships have also become overshadowed.
"The Champions League has killed off, annihilated other competition because of the huge interest it attracts," the UEFA president told Germany's Bild newspaper. "But we want to boost the Europa League again. At the moment however there is a will from almost everyone not to change things."
Platini also repeated his call for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be held in the Arab state's winter in order to protect players and fans from searing desert heat. The former France forward, considered by many as a potential successor to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, added that the World Cup in Qatar should involve other countries from the region.
"I am in favour of Qatar under two conditions," he said. "Because of the heat the World Cup will need to be held in the winter. With over 40 degrees (Celsius), playing football is impossible and for the fans it would also be unbearable. Also, the neighbouring emirates must be included so that the World Cup is staged throughout the entire region."
The finals were awarded to Qatar by world governing body FIFA in 2010 and are due to be held in the country's summer months when the temperature can reach more than 40 degrees Celsius. In December and January the average is a far less intense 17 degrees.
Saudi Arabia shares a border with Qatar while the United Arab Emirates is also near, as is Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. Platini voted for Qatar to be awarded the world's top soccer tournament and was also in favour of Russia's winning bid to host the event in 2018.
Qatar's winning bid caused a major stir in world soccer but critics argue it would be impossible to halt European soccer leagues mid-season to stage a World Cup in December or January. They also questioned the choice of a tiny state that lacked the necessary existing infrastructure and soccer enthusiasm to stage such an event.
"I was the only one who prior to the vote had said how he will vote. Both countries [Russia and Qatar] have never staged a World Cup," Platini said.