SPORTS

UEFA takes a swipe at rival competition

European soccer’s governing body UEFA yesterday described the proposed Golden Cup tournament being organized in Madrid as lacking «credibility» and said it may not succeed in the present economic market. The Golden Cup is a proposed rival to the Champions League that is being discussed by a group of Spanish business people. They plan a stand-alone tournament that will be played midweek. «I think the present situation is not exactly asking for such ideas, since the market is not necessarily developing positively. So, this agency or agent basing himself on commercial considerations only will also have a problem of credibility,» said UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner. Aigner made the remarks after a two-day UEFA executive committee meeting in Athens chaired by the body’s president, Lennart Johansson. Johansson said no action should be taken against the organization of the proposed Golden Cup until more information is available. «I see no reason to take any action until we know who it is and what it’s all about. All I heard is that the minority clubs are not interested in participating,» Johansson said. Johansson also said changes in the UEFA Cup can be expected in 2005, but did not give details. «This is under way, but we have to discuss it with all people concerned,» Johansson said. Johansson said that during the meetings there was a positive report on Champions League television and commercial sales for 2003-2006. The meeting also received an update for Euro 2004 to be held in Portugal. Officials also approved the 2003-2004 budget to be presented before the UEFA congress in Rome in 2003. Approval was also given to create a video history of the European Championships and European club competitions. UEFA officials also met with Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos to discuss creating a «proper legal basis for sport within the European Union.» Greece holds the six-month EU presidency. «This executive committee meeting has once again confirmed the continued progress we are making in European football and the importance of unity and solidarity as we build for the future,» Johansson said. Johansson also signed a sponsorship renewal with Amstel beer executives for the next three Champions League seasons from 2003-2006. Amstel executives refused to disclose the funds involved. The UEFA bosses were not the only soccer heavyweights present in Athens. French soccer legend Michel Platini said yesterday he will participate in a celebrity committee to help promote the 2004 Olympics. Platini was asked to join the committee by Greece’s sports minister, Giorgos Lianis. He said he will cooperate with the world’s soccer governing body FIFA and Greek football federation, EPO, to also help with the 2004 soccer tournament. «I know that I have many friends in Greece. I accepted the proposal with joy,» the 47-year-old former French captain said. «I do not think there is a person in the world who does not want to help Greece to organize a perfect soccer tournament and Olympic Games in general,» Platini said. (AP)