Al-Khelaifi, who is the Chairman at beIN Media Group, has secured a second consecutive four-year term (2023-2027) following unanimous vote at the recent general assembly held in Berlin.
The 30th General Assembly of the European Club Association (ECA), representing nearly 500 football clubs across Europe, concluded on a note with the unanimous re-election of Nasser Al-Khelaifi as its Chairman for the next four years, spanning from 2023 to 2027. The decision was reached following a Constitutive Board meeting, solidifying Al-Khelaifi’s continued leadership in the organisation.
Nasser bin Ghanim Al-Khelaifi, a prominent Qatari businessman, currently holds pivotal roles as the Chairman of beIN Media Group, Qatar Sports Investments, President of Paris Saint-Germain, and the Qatar Tennis Federation. Additionally, he serves as the Vice President of the Asian Tennis Federation for West Asia.
The 30th General Assembly, held in Berlin, witnessed the presence of high-profile attendees, including UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin and virtual participation by FIFA President Gianni Infantino. The discussions during the assembly encompassed a reflection on the substantial progress made over the past two years, ECA’s v Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UEFA, and strategic plans for the future of ECA.
Speaking about the last two years, Al-Khelaifi said: “The General Assembly of our leadership team was held at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva two years ago. We had spent the past 18 months wearing Covid masks and holding meetings by video and telephone. Everything was done at a distance. However, we opened our stadiums to store supplies and serve our cities – because football is bigger than just a sport. We found ways to connect with our fans despite the distance. Rather than being pushed apart, we pulled together – even if some wanted us to fail. And it was in Geneva where ECA set our course to where we are today.
“Since then, we have held General Assemblies, Board meetings, youth exchanges, workshops and network events in over 25 countries across Europe. We hosted ECA’s first-ever Financial Sustainability Summit in Switzerland, and our first-ever Women’s Football Summit in London which marked a milestone for women’s club football.
He added: “I want to talk from my heart. You know, as someone from a small country like Qatar, I know what it’s like to be an outsider; to be under-estimated and under-appreciated – but still to have big ambitions. That’s why I have such a determination for ECA to help smaller clubs – and any club with big dreams. Don’t let anyone stop your ambition; don’t give up; keep working hard; keep believing in your goals. No matter the size of your club or the size of your challenge, your voice is heard here. ECA has collective ambitions threading together all our Sub-Divisions, and we are growing European club football side by side.”
Al-Khelaifi continued: “We have come such a long way over the past cycle. There has been an enormous shift in the role clubs play in the decisions that shape European club football. Today, we are a dynamic, democratic, and inclusive institution – seeking influence and a voice for the many, not the few.”
While reflecting on his time with the ECA and the ongoing relationship with UEFA, Al-Khelaifi said: “Our partnership with UEFA is so important. We don’t always agree – far from it. But we always discuss things constructively – with dialogue, common understanding, and searching for solutions. And, with thanks to President Čeferin and our UEFA colleagues, I am pleased to say that this morning we signed a new MoU with UEFA, which sets our path to 2030 as the sole representative of European clubs in Europe and worldwide. I want to be clear, as clubs we have obligations under our MoU – we must all honour them.”
Al-Khelaifi commented: “73% of players at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 came from our European clubs. Looking back to the World Cup in Germany 2006, clubs received nothing. Then after ECA was established, clubs received $40m in South Africa 2010. Following our long and tough negotiations with FIFA, our club benefits have multiplied. Now, for each of the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, $355m will be distributed to clubs worldwide, over 70% more than the last World Cup.”
Discussing the ECA itself, Al-Khelaifi stated: “By placing collective interests above individual interests, we have seen +89% and +73% increases in UEFA Club Competition solidarity for sub-division 3 and sub-division 4 clubs since the last cycle. There has been a +25% increase in prize money for UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League. By working on our relationships in Europe and worldwide, we have seen 440 clubs and 837 players around the world benefit from the Club Benefits Programme agreed between FIFA and ECA – even clubs outside Europe. By seeing football not just as a sport but as a social contract, we have used the potential and reach of all our clubs to make a difference in wider society. We have shown how we can come together for communities in Ukraine, Türkiye and Syria – and the new ECA Foundation will continue our important responsibility to society.”
Looking into the future, Al-Khelaifi noted: “We will have an expanded Board and new Executive Committee which will be more representative, empowered and efficient than ever before. We will have a wider membership and new philosophy that will see ECA not only represent clubs who play in Europe, but clubs that are from Europe. We will be inclusive – vertically and horizontally – within professional football. We will have better resources and improved funding that will match our goals. I am often the first person to put pressure on our management team asking for more to be done for our members, more quickly. But honestly, what our team achieves for you with a limited budget is incredible.”
He concluded: “Everyone in the pyramid will benefit from ECA’s work. We will not grow at the expense of other legitimate stakeholders. We will grow together with our partners and bring people with us. And we will aspire to make a difference every day, including by giving amazing services to you, our members.”