SPORTS Europe's soccer governing body UEFA condemns breakaway 'super league' reports


Europe's soccer governing body UEFA condemns breakaway 'super league' reports


07:05, April 19, 2021

Official UEFA Champions League match balls await Liverpool v Real Madrid on April 14, 2021 – but will soccer's biggest names soon move to a new competition? (Photos: AP)

Europe's soccer governing body and the richest league in the sport have both strongly condemned fresh reports that 12 of the biggest clubs in Europe are set to join a breakaway league.

Reports suggest five of the teams that have agreed to join the new league are from England, while Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as clubs from Italy are also reportedly on board with the idea.

A statement from European body UEFA said any participant clubs would be frozen out of other competitions.

"The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams," the statement warned.

"We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough."

Meanwhile the richest league in world soccer, the English Premier League, has said that such competitions "attack the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid."

A Premier League statement said "A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper.

"Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream," it added.

England's Premier League has also strongly condemned the reports.

There have been reports of a breakaway European competition involving the continent's top teams for decades. Indeed, the 1992 reorganization and renaming of UEFA's top competition from the European Cup to the Champions League is seen by many as an early attempt to stave off such a split.

But in recent years, rumors have increased in regularity and scope. In October last year, the then president of Spanish club Barcelona Josep Maria Bartomeu said the club had accepted a proposal to join a breakaway league.

In January, Spanish league president Javier Tebas admitted that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool had been pushing for the project, but that other clubs in Spain and across the world opposed the idea.

Following these reports, global soccer governing body FIFA and UEFA both issued a stark warning to players involved in any such breakaway, adding they would ban anyone involved in it.

UEFA is due to sign off its own plans to expand and restructure the Champions League on Monday, which would mean 36 teams would be involved In the group stages, up from 32 currently.

The changes would also mean there would be an overhaul of the group stage into a single table rather than the current groups of four clubs. Teams would play 10 matches each in the group stage rather than the six they currently play and a playoff round would also be introduced before the last 16.

But these fresh reports could have massive ramifications for the future of the competition as well as domestic leagues across the continent.

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