FIFA’s Infantino: Super League clubs will ‘pay the consequences’

A breakaway competition launched by 12 major European football clubs has sent shockwaves through the sport.

'It is our task to protect the European sport model, so if some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choices,' said the chief of world football's governing body, Gianni Infantino [Richard Juilliart/UEFA/Reuters]

FIFA boss Gianni Infantino slammed the proposed Super League and warned that the football clubs involved could face “consequences”.

Twelve major European football clubs announced plans on Sunday for a new breakaway league which would drastically change the landscape of the world’s most popular sport.

“At FIFA we can only and strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, of a Super League which is a closed shop, a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA,” Infantino said on Tuesday at a UEFA congress in Switzerland.

“If someone decides to undertake its own path, they will have to pay the consequences,” Infantino added.

Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the six English clubs involved, together with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid from Spain and Italian trio Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

UEFA has said the teams would be banned from domestic and other European competitions, including the Champions League.

In its latest statement on Sunday, UEFA made it clear it believes that the Super League is a project “founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever”.

It also added that it will consider “all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening”.

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez, the head of the new Super League, has insisted that would be “impossible”, but Infantino threatened action as FIFA took a stronger stance than it did with its initial statement when the news first broke.

“It is our task to protect the European sport model, so if some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choices,” said Infantino.

“They are responsible for their choices.

“Either you’re in or you’re out. You can’t be half in and half out. Think of it, this has to be absolutely, absolutely clear.”

‘Huge mistake’

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said there was still time for clubs to pull out, addressing the owners, particularly of the Premier League teams involved, and saying they could row back on their “mistake”.

“Gentlemen, you made a huge mistake,” said Ceferin, who had launched a withering attack against the Super League clubs on Monday.

“Some will say it is greed, some complete ignorance of England’s football culture. There’s still time to change your mind. Everyone makes mistakes.

“English fans deserve to have you correct your mistake, they deserve respect.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a meeting of football chiefs and fans’ representatives on Tuesday as they consider what action to take over the proposed Super League.

Writing in the Sun newspaper, he said he was “horrified” at the implications for clubs up and down the country, which had a “unique place” at the heart of their communities.

In a direct message to fans, he said: “It is your game – and you can rest assured that I’m going to do everything I can to give this ludicrous plan a straight red.”

Protests took place outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground and Liverpool and Leeds fans gathered outside Elland Road before their Premier League match on Monday to voice their opposition.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said on Monday the competition’s closed nature was “not right”.

The 15 founding Super League clubs, three of which are yet to be announced, would qualify automatically every season, with only five other places up for grabs each year.

“UEFA competitions need Atalanta, Celtic, Dynamo,” Ceferin said.

“We need those clubs. People need to know that everything is possible, everyone has a chance.

“The big clubs today have not necessarily been big in the past. Football is dynamic and football is unpredictable, this is what makes it such a beautiful game.”

The Qatari president of French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain – which is not in the 12-team breakaway Super League – said any proposal without UEFA’s support would not help football.

Nasser al-Khelaifi, in a statement issued following his re-election to the UEFA executive committee, said: “We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA – an organisation that has been working to progress the interests of European football for nearly 70 years – does not resolve the issues currently facing the football community, but is instead driven by self-interest.” The statement added PSG would continue to work with UEFA.

There have been few voices that have backed the breakaway league, with owners of the 12 teams conspicuous by their absence.

The first senior figure of any club involved to publicly talk about the move was Real Madrid President Florentino Perez – the new chairman of the Super League – who said football needed to evolve and adapt to the times.

“Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it … and we are doing this to save football at this critical moment,” Perez said on the Spanish TV show El Chiringuito de Jugones.

“Audiences are decreasing and rights are decreasing and something had to be done. We are all ruined. Television has to change so we can adapt.

“Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are a lot of poor-quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms on which to distract themselves.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies