In a joint announcement on Sunday night, six English clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – alongside three teams from Italy – AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus – and three from Spain – – Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid – have presented plans to form a separatist competition, called in the announcement the Super League.
The group plan to add three more clubs ahead of the inaugural Super League season, which “should start as soon as possible”, according to the announcement posted on the 12 clubs’ websites.
The joint statement states that the league will ultimately be made up of 20 clubs and will be governed by the founding clubs.
Joel Glazer, Manchester United co-president and Super League vice-president, said: “By bringing together the world’s biggest clubs and players to compete against each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competitions and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid. “
The plans, which would represent the most significant upheaval in elite European football in recent history, were immediately condemned by politicians, fans, former players and sports regulators.
FIFA, the world’s football governing body, has denounced the formation of the Super League, saying it goes against FIFA’s core principles of solidarity, inclusion, integrity and fair financial redistribution .
“FIFA can only express its disapproval of a ‘closed European separatist league’ outside international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles,” FIFA said in a statement.
Super League players could face bans
In a statement released in January, after rumors about the new Super League began to circulate, FIFA said it would not recognize the separatist organization and went so far as to say that “any club or player involved in such competition shall not be permitted to participate in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation. “
This would include the main football competition, the World Cup, which takes place every four years; the Champions League, which now brings together the best clubs in Europe each year, and all regional competitions such as the European Cup or the African Cup.
In Sunday’s UEFA statement, he referred to FIFA’s previous statement stressing that Super League clubs “will be banned from playing in any other competition at national, European or world level, and that their players could being denied the opportunity to represent their national teams “.
Even before the official announcement of the Super League on Sunday, the governing body of European football along with several other governing bodies and leagues issued a joint statement condemning the formation of the new league. UEFA – which oversees all European football – along with the governing bodies of England, Spain and Italy and the top leagues of these three countries co-signed the declaration.
“We wish to reiterate that we – UEFA, English FA, RFEF, FIGC, Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations – will stand united in our efforts to stop this project. cynical., a project based on the personal interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever ”, we can read in part.“ We will examine all the measures at our disposal, at all levels , both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this from happening. Football is based on open competition and sporting merit; It can not be otherwise.”
No German or French club were involved in the formation of the Super League. Christian Seifert, CEO of the German Football Association (DFL), said his organization opposes the concept of a European Super League.
“The economic interest of a few big clubs in England, Italy and Spain should not lead to the abolition of the structures established in European football as a result,” Seifert said in a statement. Seifert added that it would be “irresponsible to irreparably damage the national leagues as the basis of European professional football”.
England’s Premier League, the world’s most watched football league, has condemned the Super League plan as a blow to the hopes of the millions of football fans who support small clubs in England and across Europe .
Under the current rules of relegation and promotion based on performance on the pitch, any club can hope to compete with powerful teams at some point.
“Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream of their team being able to climb to the top and play against the best. We believe the concept of a European Super League would destroy that dream,” said said a Premier League statement.
“It is clear that this would harm English and European football at all levels and attack the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are fundamental to competitive sport,” said a statement from the English Football Association, which supervise one of the sports. oldest and richest competitions, the FA Cup.
European political leaders quickly spoke out against the plans for the new league.
“They would strike at the heart of the national match and will concern fans across the country. The clubs involved must respond to their supporters and the wider football community before taking any further action,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The President of the Republic welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate in a European football Super League project which threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement, according to Reuters .
Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid CF and first president of the Super League, disagrees with criticism of his group’s potential impact on sport.
“We will help football at all levels and bring it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with over four billion supporters and our responsibility as great clubs is to fulfill their wishes. “said Pérez. in a report,
The Super League’s announcement said the global Covid-19 pandemic showed changes were needed to support the sport, which saw its revenues damaged as matches were canceled or played in empty stadiums.
“The global pandemic has accelerated the instability of the current economic model of European football,” the statement said.
“The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable business approach are needed to increase value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid,” he said.
The Super League said its founding clubs “look forward to engaging with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best results for the new League and for football as a whole.”
Super League organizers have also announced plans to launch a corresponding women’s league “as soon as possible after the start of men’s competition.”
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