European outsiders to start new league

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Representatives of Eastern European clubs who have failed to qualify for major European competitions in recent years decided yesterday to set up an alternative tournament to help develop soccer in the region. Delegates representing Olympiakos Piraeus, Partizan and Red Star Belgrade, the Sofia clubs Levski and CSKA, APOEL Nicosia and Dinamo, Steaua and Rapid Bucharest signed an accord to create the Football Club Cooperation Forum (FCCF). «The FCCF competition will allow the teams which couldn’t qualify for the UEFA Cup and Champions League to continue competing at a professional level,» Rapid Bucharest General Secretary Cristian Costache told Reuters. The initial plan is to include 16 teams from nine countries – Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine – but the door remains open to other teams in the region. Costache said the plan would be submitted to soccer’s world and European governing bodies – FIFA and UEFA – for approval after the FCCF’s next meeting in June.