UEFA offers Champions incentive

UEFA offers Champions incentive

The Europa League winners will qualify for the Champions League from the 2015-16 season, it was confirmed at UEFA’s Congress today.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino announced the rule change which aims to make the second-tier European tournament more attractive to clubs.

Infantino did not confirm the full details, but it is understood that Europa League winners and Champions League winners will no longer take a place from the domestic leagues if they finish outside of the Champions League qualifying spots.

UEFA's 53 member associations also agreed to adopt a resolution approving anti-racism measures.

It will see a 10-match ban for players and officials found guilty of racism in European matches.

Racism by fans will be punished by partial stadium closure for a first offence, with a full stadium closure for a second offence.

The resolution will still allow national associations to have different sanctions – in England the Football Association last week announced a five-match minimum ban for on-pitch racism.

Platini said: “This is a great moment in our struggle against racism.”

UEFA also voted to include Gibraltar as a member nation, its 54th.

There had been opposition from Spain but the Gibraltar FA won a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport obliging UEFA to accept the British overseas territory as a member.

Gareth Latin, president of the Gibraltar Football Association, said in a statement: ``This is a momentous occasion for football in Gibraltar. UEFA membership means that we can begin the next chapter of Gibraltarian football.

“At last we’ll be able to show the whole of Europe that we can match the best with football of a high standard and entertaining style. It will open up a whole new world of opportunities for our highly skilled young footballers.

“This is one of our greatest ever sporting moments and, of course, we’d like to thank everyone who helped with our bid and all those who voted for us. We couldn’t have made it without you.”

UEFA president Michel Platini confirmed that Gibraltar would be kept apart from Spain in qualifying for Euro 2016.

Platini said: “Gibraltar will not play qualifying matches with Spain – we also have this situation with Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

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