Tebas points to Infantino as puppeteer behind ESL formation

By Andrew Warshaw

May 12 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s alleged role in aiding and abetting the formation of the ill-fated European Super League has again been catapulted into the public domain by outspoken La Liga chief Javier Tebas.

Infantino has persistently maintained in public both his and FIFA’s staunch opposition to the doomed project and there is no proof whatsoever to suggest that he was in any way complicit.

It is highly possible Tebas is just making mischief but some who have had access to the Super League files claim that behind the scenes the FIFA president was in favour of the idea.

Tebas, who recently became a member of the UEFA executive committee, claims he has seen documents which he believes prove Infantino actively orchestrated the breakaway plan.

Tebas alleges in no uncertain terms that  Infantino is the person identified as ‘W01’ in the secret documentation.

“It’s he who is behind the Super League and I already told him in person,”  Tebas was quoted as saying.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again, behind all of this is FIFA president Gianni Infantino. He’s pushing, saying things …”

Last month Le Monde newspaper pointed to a document it had seen, circulated earlier this year between club leaders, which outlined that 12 clubs from the Super League would participate, from the 2023-2024 season, in a new format of the Club World Cup that would be held for three weeks annually.

For months Infantino has been championing the expanded 24-team Club World Cup, the first edition of which is due to be held in China, saying it will be the “the best club competition in the world” as well as, he claimed, the most lucrative.

The suggestion that some of the ESL clubs would have gained automatically entry into Infantino’s pet project will only serve to fuel suspicions about his true objectives though there is no evidence to show Infantino is indeed ‘WO1’.

Only three of the 12 founding members – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – have refused to distance themselves from the European Super League, with Real boss Florentino Perez, the driving force behind the aborted  project idea, insisting the project still had legs.

Tebas, a long-time critic of Perez, says the Real Madrid boss was misguided in masterminding the concept.

“I’ve heard the Real Madrid president say that football will be ruined in three years and that is simply not true,” said Tebas. “It’s nothing personal … it’s just that what he presents is another type of football industry that puts in danger the current one and I cannot allow for that to happen.”

Last weekend Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina warned that Juventus could be thrown out of Serie A if they did not officially withdraw from the ESL but  Tebas argued La Liga had no “regulatory capacity to sanction” Real or Barca.

“That was said by the president of the Italian FA but not by the Italian league,” Tebas said. “The federations belong to UEFA not the leagues.”

Tebas is a late addition to a SIGA-organised webinar panel discussing the ESL project and the implications for football governance. The webinar, part of the ‘No Such Thing as a Crisis’ series, is free to attend. To register, click here.

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