Neymar breaks Brazil’s goal-scoring record in 5-1 win in South American World Cup qualifying

Neymar breaks Brazil’s goal-scoring record in 5-1 win in South American World Cup qualifying

PSG’s Qatari owner says ‘no chance’ Saudi clubs would be given UEFA Champions League spots

LONDON: The chairman of Paris Saint-Germain has said there is “no chance” Saudi clubs would be granted places in the UEFA Champions League.

Following a summer spending spree by Saudi Pro League clubs of almost €1 billion ($1.07 billion), it has been suggested that Saudi Arabia could lobby UEFA for entry to its flagship competition in the future in the form of “wildcard” spots.

Earlier this year, Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United for Al-Nassr, Karim Benzema signed for Al-Ittihad from Real Madrid and Neymar swapped PSG for Al-Hilal as part of an influx of players from European clubs to the Saudi league.

Speaking at the end of the European Club Association general assembly in Berlin in his role as chairman of the organization, Nasser Al-Khelaifi said it would be “extremely difficult” for Saudi clubs to join the competition, the Telegraph newspaper reported.

“Today we are trying to develop and grow, let more European clubs participate in European competition. The smaller and medium sized clubs want that,” he said.

“I don’t see there are other clubs coming from outside to Europe, I don’t know what is going to happen in a few years but today I don’t see that anyone from outside will play here.

“If there is a Super Cup or something, why not? But to play in Europe in a competition, if you are not a European — you know better than me — I do not see (it),” he added.

During his speech, Al-Khelaifi touched upon the potential for an expansion of the Financial Fair Play rules European clubs currently operate under to govern global football; something he said FIFA would have to deal with.

“My role is that we focus more on Europe, and the European club sustainability,” he said. “But, listen, most of the clubs sold their players to (the Saudi league), so, if we are not happy why do we sell our players to them? That’s the truth.”

He continued: “Is it dangerous? If you ask the clubs, some of them say: ‘Yes.’ Some of them say ‘No.’ Some of them are happy, some of them unhappy, I told you my opinion, if there is danger the European clubs will not be quiet. So far, I don’t see any danger.”

Gulf bragging rights will be on the line in this season’s Champions League when Saudi Public Investment Fund-owned Newcastle United come up against Al-Khelaifi’s PSG in the group stage — something the Qatari is excited about.

“I am not a politician. I am about sport,” he said. “Football for me brings people together, I am so proud and happy to play against this Newcastle home and away, all together with our clubs. This is football.”

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