Aleksander Ceferin: UEFA working 24/7 to get players out of Ukraine

Aleksander Ceferin: Uefa Working 24/7 To Get Players Out Of Ukraine
The 54-year-old urged peace and admitted it was ‘impossible’ to say when Russia’s ban could end. © PA Archive/PA Images
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By George Sessions, PA

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has revealed he is personally helping footballers trying to leave Ukraine and called for an end to the “madness” of Russia’s invasion of the country.

Earlier this week, European football’s governing body expelled Russian clubs and national teams from all competitions having already relocated this year’s Champions League final from St Petersburg.


Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, the 54-year-old explained some of the other work taking place behind the scenes.

The Champions League final has already been moved from St Petersburg
The Champions League final has already been moved from St Petersburg (Tim Goode/PA)

Ceferin said from UEFA’s headquarters in Switzerland: “I was on the phone for 48 hours with players and coaches, foreign players and coaches, to help them to leave Ukraine during the war.


“We spoke 24 hours a day and I asked all the governments for help, but nobody could help because nobody could guarantee safety.

“Everyone said they should stay there because that’s the safest thing to do and I in a way understand the governments because it is hard for them to take the responsibility but we had to do it, together with the football association of Ukraine and all the neighbouring football associations.

“It is hard for me even to explain how tough, hard and sad those conversations were. One of those players when they successfully exited Ukraine came to my home two days ago. The other one was here today.



“You have to know I have photos from their side when they were there with families, with children of four and three months with bombs exploding outside. This is bigger than football and I am proud of the football family that the football family stood together and we helped as much as we could.

“We have many things like that that are not public, but we have to help 24/7 and do our part. Our part is the football part. It is really hard to say what can happen tomorrow. We are all just hoping and praying the war stops. This madness should stop as soon as possible.”


A joint-statement from UEFA and FIFA on Monday confirmed Russian clubs and its national teams were no longer allowed to compete due to the war in Ukraine but Ceferin would not be drawn on when the ban would be lifted.

He added: “It is impossible to say. At this moment our decision was the only right decision, it was a unanimous decision from the executive committee of UEFA. What will happen tomorrow, nobody knows.

“I cannot give you an answer to this question. For now it stays like that and we are waiting for peace to come. Football will be the least important thing then.”

While Russian’s men are set to miss out on the World Cup in Qatar in December, the women have also been banned from this summer’s European Championship and a solution over who to replace them is being worked on.

Ceferin explained: “The decision of our executive committee is that all the Russian teams and Russian national teams, youth, female and male are out of competition, that is the decision now.

“The other one is the thing we are still discussing. Probably, as I spoke with our director of competitions, we will have a draw who enters between the teams who were close to qualifying (for Euro 2022) but for now the decision has not been made yet.”

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