Breakaway clubs ‘must live with consequences of their choice’ – Gianni Infantino

PA Sport Staff
·4 min read

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said his organisation “strongly disapproves” of plans for a European Super League and has warned the breakaway clubs they will have to “live with the consequences of their choice”.

Twelve clubs – including the Premier League’s so-called ‘big six’ – are part of proposals which would fundamentally alter the shape of European football.

Infantino told the UEFA Congress on Tuesday morning: “We can only strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, a Super League which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA and from FIFA.

“There is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some. They need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility.”

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He warned the breakaway clubs: “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’re in or you’re out. You cannot be half in or half out.”

It is understood the Premier League has called its other 14 clubs to an emergency shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday morning, to which the ‘big six’ – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – have not been invited.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a round table with representatives from football governing bodies as well as fans’ representatives on Tuesday to discuss the proposed breakaway competition.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin thanked Infantino, before directly addressing the English breakaway clubs and urging them to come to their senses after making a “huge mistake”.

“You showed that you care about the values of football,” he said to Infantino. “And if we stand together, we are unbeatable.”

Addressing England’s ‘big six’ directly, he said: “Gentlemen, you made a huge mistake.

“What matters is that there is still time to change your mind. Everyone makes mistakes.

“Come to your senses, not out of love for football, because I imagine some of you don’t have much of that, but out of respect for those who bleed themselves dry so that they can go to the stadium to support the team and want the dream to be kept alive. For those, you (must) change your mind.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin urged the English breakaway clubs to have a rethink
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin urged the English breakaway clubs to have a rethink (Niall Carson/PA)

Ceferin pointed out that success and club size can change over time, saying: “Where were Manchester United in the decade before Sir Alex Ferguson arrived on the scene?

“And where were Juventus 15 years ago?”

UEFA is taking legal advice on the sanctions it might be able to impose, from expelling clubs to banning players from international competition including Euro 2020, though this may prove to be a negotiating tactic as the two camps size each other up.

In an interview with Spanish TV, however, Super League chairman Florentino Perez was vehement that expulsion from the Champions League would not happen.

“It will not happen, the law protects us,” he told El Chiringuito. “We will not get into legal issues. It is impossible.”

In his first public comments since the league was announced, Perez said the Super League would help the sport “evolve” in the wake of the pandemic.

He added: “When you don’t have income beyond television, the way to make it profitable is to make more attractive matches. That’s how we started working.

“We came to the conclusion that by doing a Super League during the week, instead of the Champions, we would be able to mitigate the lost income (from the pandemic).”

When shown a montage of critical comments from the likes of Gary Neville, Jurgen Klopp and Johnson, Perez added: “All those people, they don’t know the truth. They have said it is a league for the rich and it’s not true. It’s a league to save football.”