Football

FIFA ‘disapproves’ of Super League; UEFA president implores clubs to reconsider

Red-carding a proposal: Gianni Infantino, left, and Aleksander Ceferin have minced no words in criticising the ESL  

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Tuesday there is “no doubt whatsoever” that football’s world governing body “disapproves” of the proposed European Super League (ESL) and that clubs involved could face “consequences”.

Infantino leant his support to European football’s governing body, UEFA, as it attempts to quash an initiative that threatens its prized Champions League and the health of domestic competitions such as England’s Premier League.

“It is our task to protect the European sport model, so if some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choices,” Infantino said at UEFA’s congress here in Switzerland. “They are responsible for their choices.”

Twelve powerful clubs have signed up for the Super League, which offers guaranteed spots for its founding members and billions of dollars in payments.

Teams and format

Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the English clubs involved, together with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid from Spain and Italian trio Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Three more clubs are expected to sign up and five more will qualify annually for the 20-team, midweek competition, where two groups of 10 will precede two-legged quarter- and semifinals and a one-off final. The competition is due for launch “as soon as is practicable”.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Tuesday implored club owners, particularly those of Premier League teams, to row back on the plans.

“There’s still time to change your mind. Everyone makes mistakes,” said the Slovenian. “English fans deserve to have you correct your mistake, they deserve respect.”

Meanwhile, the 14 Premier League clubs not involved in the proposed Super League “unanimously and vigorously rejected” the plans at an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

“The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders involved to account under its rules.”

“The Premier League would like to thank fans and all stakeholders for the support they have shown this week on this significant issue.

Go to court

However, organisers of the Super League said they would file court motions to stop players being banned and “ensure the seamless establishment and operation” of the competition, according to a letter to Ceferin and Infantino that was seen by AFP.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, the head of the new ESL, said it was “impossible” that clubs would be thrown out of the Champions League, whose upcoming semifinals feature Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

“Madrid will not be kicked out of the Champions League, definitely not. Nor City, nor anyone else,” he said, also insisting that players would still be able to represent their national teams.

“Football has to keep changing and adapting to the times. Football is losing interest. Something must be done,” Perez said.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane said he “had an opinion” on the Super League but “would not give it”, saying it was “a question for one man (Perez)”.

Guardiola critical

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola criticised the closed format, saying it is “not sport” if success is guaranteed.

“It’s not a sport when the relation between effort and reward doesn’t exist,” he said on Tuesday.

Liverpool skipper James Milner said he hopes the ESL does not happen, while Jurgen Klopp said “I feel responsible for the team, for the club and for the relationship we have with our fans. It’s a very tough time I’m sure, but I will try to help to sort it somehow.”

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 7:17:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/fifa-disapproves-of-super-league-uefa-president-implores-clubs-to-reconsider/article34370029.ece

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