UEFA warned Tuesday of the damage that would be caused to soccer by the potential creation of a European super league of the continent’s elite clubs, potentially usurping its existing Champions League.
European governing body UEFA denounced the idea as “boring” after FIFA did not deny taking part in talks about creating a rival league featuring continent’s wealthiest clubs.
In a statement, FIFA did not push back on a Sky News report that it was developing plans for an 18-team annual European Premier League. Such a competition would directly challenge UEFA and potentially undermine its existing Champions League.
UEFA is already involved in talks about potential adjustments to the Champions League format and qualification path from 2024 and strongly resists breakaway threats.
“The principles of solidarity, of promotion, relegation and open leagues are non-negotiable,” UEFA said in a statement. “It is what makes European football work and the Champions League the best sports competition in the world. UEFA and the clubs are committed to build on such strength not to destroy it to create a super league of 10, 12, even 24 clubs, which would inevitably become boring.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is one of the driving forces of the reported European Premier League, which Sky said could have $6 billion in debt financing from JP Morgan. A carefully worded response from FIFA stands in contrast to recent public comments that have forcibly and clearly denied reports it disputes.
“FIFA does not wish to comment and participate in any speculation about topics which come up every now and then,” the Zurich-based governing body said, “and, for which, institutional structures and regulatory frameworks are well in place at national, European and global level.”
There was more direct response from Spanish league president Javier Tebas, who has criticized FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s leadership in the past. Tebas said the backers of the concept “not only show a total ignorance of the organization and customs of European and world football, but also a serious ignorance of the audiovisual rights markets.
“A project of this type will mean serious economic damage to the organizers themselves and to those entities that finance it, if they exist, because they’re never official,” Tebas said. “These ‘underground’ projects only look good when drafted at a bar at 5 in the morning.”
Pérez was last year reported to have approached financiers about backing the creation of two world leagues, each with 20 teams. At the time, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin criticized the head of Real Madrid for planning a “selfish and egotistical scheme.”
Ceferin has previously been infuriated by FIFA’s expansion of the Club World Cup from seven to 24 teams, although the plans for a new event from 2021 have been abandoned with the financing not raised and the pandemic thwarting the scheduling.
The European Premier League report was published a week after it was revealed that Liverpool and Manchester United were trying to reshape the English Premier League to give the elite teams more power and the chance to make more cash. The “Project Big Picture” concepts were rejected by Premier League rivals.
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