European Super League plans a ‘spit in the face for football lovers’, Uefa claim

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin says plans for a European Super League are a “spit in the face for football lovers” as the fallout from Sunday’s bombshell announcement continues.

12 leading European clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, have pledged to join a breakaway competition that will rival the Champions League.

Three more major clubs are set to join the initial dozen with proposals for what will become a 20-team midweek tourmament set to begin “as soon as is practicable”.

The remaining members of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ – Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – as well as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid from Spain and Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan of Italy have also signed up.

Champions League holders Bayern Munich and 2021 semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain are yet to do so, with Borussia Dortmund and FC Porto committing to not taking any part.

Speaking on Monday, for the first time since the official announcement, Ceferin slammed the move and vowed to ban any players who take part from any Uefa and Fifa competitions.

“I cannot stress more strongly at this moment Uefa and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposal we have seen in the last 24 hours from a select few clubs in Europe that are fuelled purely by greed above all else,” he said. “And not only football is united, all the society is united, governments are united, it’s part of our culture, we are all united against this nonsense of a project.

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“We have the English FA, Spanish federation, Italian federation, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, but also Fifa, all our 55 member associations unanimous in our opposition to these cynical plans, that are completely against what football should be. Our game has become the greatest sport in the world based on open competition, integrity and sporting merit, and we cannot allow and we will not allow that to change. Never, ever.

“As previously announced by Fifa and the six federations, the players who will play in teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros, so they will not be able to represent their national teams at any matches, so we urge everyone from the millions of football lovers around the world, the world’s media gathered on this call today, politicians and football’s governing bodies to stand tall with us, as we do everything in our power to ensure this never ends up in fruition.”

Uefa have reaffirmed their intention to continue with their revamping of the Champions League format, a move which will see the tournament expanded from 32 to 36 teams and involve a rejigged group stage.

Those plans came in for heavy criticism themselves from fan groups last week, but Ceferin claims they are a “positive” move for the “evolution” of the game.

“I wholeheartedly believe – we all do – that the changes we announce now are exactly the required next step in football’s evolution,” he said. “They are exciting, and in their heart retain the values of the game we all love. We will also be introducing a new support structure, built on a revised financial model, that boosts revenues for participants and importantly sees solidarity payments increase as well, driving a positive impact across the European game right down to the grassroots.

“And I want to emphasise today what many of the fans don’t know. Uefa distributes close to 90% of all the revenues back to the game, not to the professionals only. We finance youth, we finance grass roots, we finance women’s football, we have a foundation, a children’s foundation, that has a great charity project, so whoever thinks super league is about money and Uefa is about money as well is not right. Super league is only about money, money of the dozen, I don’t want to call them dirty dozen, but Uefa is about developing football, and about financing what should be financed, that our football, our culture survives, and some people don’t understand it.”

The proposal has been met with almost universal condemnation with supporter groups, leading football figures as well as politicians such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson vocally expressing their opposition.

“I would like to thank all the football family, meaning players, fans coaches, national associations, leagues and clubs as well. I would like to thank governments all around Europe, I would like to especially thank Prime Minister Johnson, President Macron, vice-president of European commission, Mr Schinas, president of European parliament Mr Sassoli, and all the other leaders around Europe who respect our fans, who respect our culture, who respect the values that are European values, not only football values,” Ceferin added.

“By my opinion, this idea is a spit in the face of all football lovers, and our society as well, so we will not allow them to take it away from us.”

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