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UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin slams Europe's top leagues over 'blackmail'

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has accused Europe's top leagues of attempting to "blackmail" the governing body.

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), which represents leagues from 25 countries, has been critical of UEFA since being left out of key talks on changing Champions League entries and prize money distribution.

A deal between the EPFL and UEFA to avoid schedule clashes expired last month, and the EPFL said its leagues would now be free to organise games at the same time as Champions League or Europa League matches.

"We will never give in to the blackmail of those who think they can manipulate small leagues or impose their will on the associations because they think they are all powerful on account of the astronomical revenues they generate," Ceferin said at the UEFA Congress.

In response to Ceferin's remarks, a Premier League spokesman said a statement released prior to the Manchester City-Stoke game -- played on a Champions League night -- four weeks ago still applied.

It said: "The Premier League does not seek to arrange matches on the same dates as UEFA but the challenges of the fixture list occasionally make it unavoidable.

"UEFA itself has exacerbated the fixture challenges that English football faces, taking more Champions League and Europa League dates over the years while our competitions have remained the same.''

Ceferin also said UEFA was considering action on sexual abuse in youth football after numerous accusations in the UK over recent months.

"We cannot shut our eyes," Ceferin said. "The solutions we are exploring include a charter, the establishment of records, training and education for players and coaches, legal aid for victims and lobbying the European institutions regarding statutes of limitation."

The UEFA Congress unanimously approved a package of reforms proposed by Ceferin requiring the organisation's top officials to also hold positions in their own countries' national association. There will also be a limit of three four-year terms at UEFA.

The measures aim to make sure officials are not "out of touch with reality," Ceferin said.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino attended the congress and said Ceferin's election last year had ended years of feuding between the governing bodies.

"This stupid rivalry between UEFA and FIFA does not exist anymore and does not have to exist," Infantino said before hugging Ceferin.

Relations between FIFA and UEFA became strained in recent years under the leadership of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. Both have since been banned from football for corruption.

Seats on the FIFA Council were confirmed for Sandor Csanyi (Hungary), Dejan Savicevic (Montenegro) and Costakis Koutsokoumnis (Cyprus), who will serve through to 2021.

They were unopposed because Icelandic candidate Geir Thorsteinsson withdrew and Russian candidate Vitaly Mutko failed eligibility checks because of his role as Russian Deputy Prime Minister. A special election will be held in September for a fourth FIFA Council spot.

Separately, German Football Association president Reinhard Grindel was appointed to replace predecessor Wolfgang Niersbach's spot on the council, which runs until 2019. Niersbach was banned from football last year after the FIFA Ethics Committee ruled he failed to report possible misconduct related to Germany being awarded hosting rights for the 2006 World Cup.

Poland great Zbigniew Boniek was among eight candidates elected on Wednesday to places on the UEFA Executive Committee, along with Grindel, John Delaney (Republic of Ireland), Michele Uva (Italy), Karl-Erik Nilsson (Sweden), Michael van Praag (Netherlands), David Gill (England) and Servet Yardimci (Turkey). Candidates from Albania, Azerbaijan and Wales were not elected, and two from Kazakhstan and Cyprus withdrew.

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