Wenger protests CL expansion
Arsene Wenger (AFP Photo)
London - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has expressed opposition to UEFA's proposals to expand the flagship Champions League to 64 teams, saying it would damage domestic football.
European football's governing body is thinking about abolishing the second-tier Europa League and increasing the size of Europe's premier club tournament.
According to reports, the new format could be introduced by as early as 2015, but despite the fact it might allow seven English teams to qualify, Wenger is not in favour of the proposals.
"I am not convinced, because the Champions League already has audience problems in the group stage -- I think that would create more (problems) and lower the level," he told the Arsenal website.
"It would mean that you create a complete European championship league. That could be detrimental to the national leagues as well and could take some interest out of the first stages of the Champions League."
Wenger was also asked to comment on the shortlist for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or, but said he could not choose a winner.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi is tipped to win the award for an unprecedented fourth consecutive time, but faces competition from Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and his own club-mate, Andres Iniesta.
"It's very difficult," said Wenger.
"For the class, Messi. He's scored 76 goals (sic: 82) in one year. It looks just outrageous to me. Therefore it would be one thing to reward something exceptional.
"Ronaldo has always been there and he deserves it as well. He won the Spanish championship. Iniesta won the European Championship with the (Spanish) national team and, therefore, you could reward him.
"I'm not a big fan of these things -- if you judge purely the class, you judge Messi. If you want the achievement of the year, you would choose Ronaldo and maybe Iniesta in second. That is how I see it."