By Andrew Warshaw
November 8 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino has warned that any players who take part in a 16-team European Super League would be banned from the game including the World Cup.
The threat of a breakaway league featuring Europe’s elite clubs and starting as early as 2021 has been revived as part of German magazine Der Spiegel’s publication of confidential documents in its ‘Football Leaks’ series.
But Infantino says FIFA will punish those who quit the current status quo.
“Either you are in or you are out,” said Infantino. “This includes everything.”
“If there are players who don’t play organised football then that encompasses everything – national leagues, confederation competitions, the Euros and the World Cup. It is up to us to protect football and come up with solutions that benefit clubs and also the world football community.”
Infantino is supported, on this issue at least, by his UEFA counterpart Aleksander Ceferin who has also denounced the concept of a breakaway league. His comments were echoed by FIFA’s new legal director Alasdair Bell who recently switched from UEFA.
“The idea is if you break away, you break away – you don’t keep one foot in and one foot out,” Bell was quoted as saying. “That would be the general approach we would follow, but of course lawyers can debate this for a long time.”
Critics of Infantino could argue that he is guilty of double standards given his own proposals for extended Club World featuring at least 12 European clubs in a 24-strong lineup.
But he takes the opposite view, saying his pet project would give the clubs all the revenue they need without going down the road of an unrecognised closed league.
“The Club World Cup is the answer to any attempt to even think about any sort of breakaway leagues,” he said.
A FIFA task force with Infantino at the helm is considering whether to press ahead with the project, with a decision expected at the FIFA Council in March.
He added: “If clubs organise a breakaway Super League, who benefits? The clubs. If FIFA organises a Club World Cup, UEFA continues to organise the Champions League and the Premier League continues to organise the Premier League then the clubs benefit but also 211 member associations.”
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