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FIFA president condemns breakaway European Super League

Banners outside Anfield in Liverpool on Tuesday, protesting against the club's decision to join the European Super League Pa Wire/pa Images

Gianni Infantino has condemned the “closed shop” European Super League and warned the clubs involved of the consequences.

This content was published on April 20, 2021 - 13:56
Reuters/AP/Keystone-SDA/sb

“We can only strongly disapprove of a Super League which is a closed shop, a breakaway from current institutions,” Infantino, head of world football's Zurich-based governing body, said in a speech to UEFA's congress in Montreux, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

The Swiss made the statement after 12 of Europe's top clubs – including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and Juventus – announced the new elite league on Monday.

“If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice, they are responsible for their choice. Concretely this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in and half out. This has to be absolutely clear,” he said.

The announcement of the new Super League has sparked widespread criticism from European football officials, clubs, fans and politicians, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Aleksander Ceferin, president of Nyon-based UEFA, European football's governing body, has described the Super League plan as a “spit in the face” of all football lovers.

Also speaking at UEFA's congress on Tuesday, he said clubs had made a "huge mistake" and urged them to think again.

“What does matter is that there is still time to change your mind. Everyone makes mistakes,” said the Slovenian.

In his speech, he criticised the attitude of owners who he said view the game as a "product" and fans as "consumers".

Open for talks

The 12 clubs behind the Super League have not said when their planned breakaway league, underwritten by American bank JP Morgan Chase, would kick off.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the clubs involved  have called on UEFA and FIFA to open talks with them on their new competition.

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez, one of the main figures behind the plan, said the controversial decision had been taken “to save football” and in part motivated because “young people are no longer interested” in the game.

“Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it... and we are doing this to save football at this critical moment,” Perez said on the Spanish TV show El Chiringuito de Jugones. “Audiences are decreasing and rights are decreasing and something had to be done. We are all ruined. Television has to change so we can adapt.”

English Premier League clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham have all signed up for the Super League, along with Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan from Italy and Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid from Spain. It has been reported that a further three teams will join the list of founders ahead of the inaugural season, with a qualifying mechanism set to be put in place for a further five teams to complete the division.

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