Brexit poses 'serious problems' for UK bids to host finals, says UEFA president

Aleksander Ceferin raised the possibility of Lionel Messi and Neymar being refused entry to Britain

Lionel Messi in action during the Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg match against Real Sociedad
Image: Concerns over whether Lionel Messi would be allowed entry to the Champions League final in Cardiff were raised by the UEFA president

Brexit will cause "serious problems" for the United Kingdom hosting Champions League and European Championship finals, says the UEFA president.

Aleksander Ceferin was adamant European football's governing body remained committed to hosting the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 at Wembley, but raised concerns at the possibility of players and fans being refused entry.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier was denied permission to enter the UK for his side's Champions League game against Arsenal in November last year, with the player appealing against a conviction of assault at the time.

"If Brexit happens, everything changes, but football was played before, and it will be played in the future," Ceferin told The New York Times. "Now, with free movement in the European Union, it is much better.

UEFA Presidential candidate, Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin is pictured during the 12th Extraordinary UEFA congress in Lagonissi, some 40 kilometers south of
Image: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says Brexit will make it more difficult for European players to enter the UK

"I was very disappointed when Aurier, from PSG, was not allowed to enter England."

He added: "That will worsen when Brexit happens, especially if the reasons were as formal. We could have a serious problem.

"If we see that players cannot enter because they have any sort of procedure ongoing, then we will simply think if we should play our European matches there."

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 Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona look on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain
Image: Messi and Neymar are both facing ongoing tax evasion cases

Ceferin said UEFA had no problem if the authorities wanted to withhold visas from "a severe criminal", but he highlighted concerns ahead of this year's Champions League final, which is due to be held at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

He said: "Neymar and Lionel Messi both have (tax evasion) procedures going on. This year, the Champions League final is in Cardiff. Imagine if they did not let them in.

"That is a big thing for us, if players from England can travel anywhere but players from other teams cannot travel to England. With free movement in Europe, it is much better.

"Even in 2020, if Brexit has happened, then it can be a big problem for fans. That stays firm, and we will speak to the British government, and I am sure the English Football Association will help us."

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