UEFA has emphasised the need to nurture football's positive values during the coming European club competition season.
Clubs' help needed
Speaking at the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round draw ceremony in Nyon on Friday, UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti told clubs to help counter elements that needed to be eliminated from the game.
Respect and commitment
"Please once again bear in mind our campaign for Respect and your commitment to ensure that respect is the style of your club, your players and your supporters, rather than being a mere duty," said Marchetti.
"UEFA firmly believes that the commitment to build on the positive values of football needs continuous education and a proactive attitude against those negative elements which should have no place in our sport. In particular, racism will not be tolerated, and any racist behaviour will trigger severe actions both during and after the game."
Two qualifying routes
The draw ceremony represented the first time that clubs were being drawn into two separate qualifying routes for the UEFA Champions League – the Champions Path and the Best-placed Path. Both will ultimately lead to a play-off round that give access to the UEFA Champions League group stage.
"This comes as part of the changes that were introduced following a truly democratic aspiration to have more champions from middle to smaller associations represented in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League," said Marchetti.
Minimum 18 champions
"With FC Barcelona winning this year's title, and also being Spanish champions, there will be a minimum of 18 champions in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage. The average of the past qualifying format was already 15. It is enough to emphasise the European-ness of the competition, and also to warm up the ambitions of an increasing number of clubs."
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