UEFA shuts World, Euro Cup doors to Super League players

PARIS, 20 April 2021:

Players who compete in the breakaway Super League would be barred from international FIFA and UEFA competitions, the head of the Europe’s football governing body said yesterday.

“The players who will play in teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from playing in World Cup and Euros,” Aleksander Ceferin said.

“They could not represent national team in any matches,” the Slovenian added in his first public reaction to the announcement of a new tournament with Europe’s most powerful clubs – a plan that conflicts with UEFA’s Champions League.

Spearheaded by Real Madrid’s chairman Florentino Perez, who would become CEO of the Super League, the plan envisions an elite competition with some of the continent’s biggest clubs playing against each other on a weekly basis.

English Premier League’s Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur; LaLiga’s Real Madrid, Atletico de Madrid and Barcelona and Seria’s AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus agreed to become the founding clubs of the Super League.

The tournament would comprise 20 teams, including the 15 founders, who would not face relegation, in addition to five competitors that qualify based on their performance in the previous season.

Ceferin said the new tournament is a “disgraceful, self-serving project from a select few clubs in Europe fuelled by greed above all else.

“This idea is a spit in the face of all football lovers and our society as well. We must not let them take it away from us.”

No major teams from France or Germany have given their backing to the project thus far – backed by some of Europe’s richest football clubs – as the creation of an elite European Super League has sparked a huge backlash from fans, former players and even politicians such as the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson.

The unveiling of the plan hit an immediate sour note with the respective domestic leagues and UEFA, which have threatened to take action against the clubs involved.

UK PM Johnson yesterday vowed to do his best to prevent the Super League from going ahead. “We are going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed,” he told local media.

“I don’t think that it’s good news for fans, I don’t think it’s good news for football in this country.”

Paris Saint-Germain’s midfielder Ander Herrera on Monday said the project destroyed the concept of football. “I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest,” the Spaniard posted to his Twitter account.

“If this European super league advances, those dreams are over, the illusions of the fans of the teams that are not giants of being able to win on the field competing in the best competitions will end.

“I love football and I cannot remain silent about this, I believe in an improved Champions League but not in the rich stealing what the people created, which is nothing other than the most beautiful sport on the planet.”

The project was also slammed by former Real Madrid and Barcelona star Luis Figo. “This so called “Superleague” is anything but “Super.” This greedy and callous move would spell disaster for our grassroots, for women’s football, and the wider football community,” the Portuguese wrote on Twitter.

“Only to serve self-interested owners, who stopped caring about their fans long ago, and complete disregard for sporting merit. Tragic.”

Former Real Madrid player Mesut Ozil also took to social media to condemn the new tournament. “Kids grow up dreaming to win the World Cup and the Champions League — not any Super League,” the German said.

“The enjoyment of big games is that they only happen once or twice a year, not every week. Really hard to understand for all football fans out there,” the current Fenerbahçe midfielder added.

Meanwhile, UEFA’s executive committee yesterday decided to expand the Champions League by three teams to 36 as of the 2024-2025 season.

The new format will comprise of a league stage involving all the participants, with the top-8 automatically qualifying for the round of 16 and the teams placed between the ninth and 14th spots playing a two-match playoff.

The rest of the clubs will be automatically eliminated from the tournament. Then the tournament will follow the existing two-match tie format.

This implies finalists will play at least 17 matches, instead of 13, or even 19 if they had to go through a playoff.

The European’s top-ranked leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A) will have their four spots each intact while Ligue 1’s top-3 will qualify for the tournament.

The previous season’s Europa League champion have their Champions League berth secured, while the number of league champions qualifying for the tournament will increase from four to five.

The last two places will be for the clubs with the highest coefficient of the last five years that have not qualified for the group stage of the Champions League but have made it to the qualifiers of the Champions League, the Europa League or Conference League.

“This new format supports the status and future of the domestic game throughout Europe as well,” UEFA president Aleskander Ceferin said in a statement.

“It retains the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification and reconfirms the principles of solidarity right through the game and of open competition.”