Champions League changes show lack of care for players, claims Pep Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola has accused UEFA of not caring enough about players following its revamp of the Champions League.

The European governing body this week confirmed the number of teams participating in the group stage of the elite club competition will increase from 32 to 36 from 2024.

Changes to the format will also mean all clubs playing at least 10 fixtures rather than the current six.

This news has been almost completely overshadowed by the furore surrounding the ill-fated European Super League, which saw six clubs – including City – attempt to create a breakaway rival competition.

Yet it has not gone unnoticed in the game, with City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan tweeting that he viewed the Champions League changes as merely “the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League”.

City manager Guardiola has backed up his player, believing there are already enough games in the calendar.

“Deja vu – every time it’s the same,” said Guardiola, who was also critical of the Super League concept his club initially signed up to.

“All the managers and players ask for better quality and the football world goes for quantity.

“Listen, I’m not an expert about the format of the Champions League. But always (when) we demand, all the managers, to reduce the calendar, have more time to recover the players to enjoy our profession, they do the opposite.

“Of course there will be more injuries. At the end of the day the players play because they love to play, but the injuries come. UEFA knows that, of course they know it. Do they care? Absolutely not.”

Guardiola feels such complaints usually fall on deaf ears.

He said: “The Premier League, UEFA, FIFA – we give our opinion but more than that we cannot do anything. It’s their business. They decide to do this.

“It’s in their hands. If they decide to play 10 more games then there are 10 more games. What can we do? The show must go on. If in the World Cup they play 56 teams we are going to play 56 teams.”

Guardiola also did not like the Super League proposals
Guardiola also did not like the Super League proposals (Rui Vieira/PA)

Yet with the concept appearing to have collapsed following the withdrawal of most of its teams in response to a huge backlash, Guardiola hopes the sport can now move forward with all clubs treated as equals.

He said: “We cannot deny it is a business. All the teams, all the clubs and all the fans want the best players possible and for that you need good investment.

“But the chapter is over and we focus again. The club made an honest statement, and now we move on. Learn from that.

“We have to change something in the future. Everyone will have the chance to play in the competitions they deserve to play.

“After that the people in charge, the people with wise and smart brains, will think what is the best for future of football. It should be just equality for everyone. When you have equality in human rights and everything, society will be better.”

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