UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to ban the attempts of the top 12 European football clubs to form a “super league”, citing growing political threats to the development of the game.
“The prime minister has assured the government that it will not stop while a few private owners are setting up shop in a closed shop,” Johnson’s office said on Tuesday. “It was clear that nothing could be done right now and that the government is looking into the possibility, including legislation, to ensure that this does not happen.”
The Prime Minister’s comments add to the general criticism of governments including France, Spain, Italy and Greece against the idea that could disrupt the current European competition and hurt minority groups. Clément Beaune, France’s ambassador to Europe, called the plan “unconstitutional”, and said France could take action if it took over the EU president next year if the situation was not resolved by then.
“This is a result of how the money is royal, which includes merit and consensus,” he said Tuesday, adding that it could seriously damage football. “We need to get rid of this kind of closed competition for money, the end of the story.”
Beaune comments followed by reports over the weekend that President Emmanuel Macron, a football fan, supported the efforts of footballers to counter this idea.
Of the 12 registered clubs, six are from the English Premier League, three from Serie A in Italy and three from La Liga in Spain. But Paris St Germain of France and Bayern Munich of Germany, two of the richest and most famous clubs in Europe, did not participate.
The system would allow member clubs to compete on their own without the risk of downgrading and therefore ensure that funding is still available. But current political leaders, supporters and football officials say it could jeopardize the chances of European competition, which is built on club competitions where clubs compete and can be promoted or demoted depending on how they play.
This has raised concerns among other European regional groups, which could lose access to television if the competition continues.
“The idea of a few rich European clubs to form a closed alliance completely undermines the history and tradition of the sport. It’s wrong – clear and simple, “Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday.” Fans will not agree. “
The Italian government of Mario Draghi said on Monday “it will unwaveringly support the great Italian and European powers to maintain international competition, the right mindset and the performance of the game”.
Aleksander Ceferin, president of Uefa, the governing body of football in Europe, said the idea was embarrassing and threatened to ban players who would take part in international competitions, such as the World Cup.
Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of Paris Saint-Germain, a French club based in the Qatari state, has vowed to stay in the Champions League, a Uefa international tournament.
“We hope that any idea without Uefa’s support – an organization that has been working to advance the interests of European football for almost 70 years – will not solve the problems they are currently experiencing, but simply be manipulated.”
Al-Khelaifi is also the owner of DoIN-based beIN Sports, a broadcaster who has spent billions of euros to gain the freedom to watch TV at football matches across Europe, including the Champions League.
Prosecutors want to know if governments will be able to stem the tide of dissent even under pressure and public outrage. Simon Chadwick, a professor of Eurasian sports at EMLyon Business School, said although there was anger from many capitals European governments could fight it.
“States or the EU can threaten to exclude players or ban teams but for me this is just speculation,” he added. “It’s similar to the Amazon and taxes in the last 10 years – European countries have tried to fail to regulate non-governmental organizations in many ways.”
In Italy, some football club owners were outraged by this. Urbano Cairo, an Italian businessman who is chairman of the Torino football club, has called up teams planning to leave Serie A “judases”.
“She should be ashamed. The work of the super league will not do well, but even considering it means trying to test the life of Serie A. ”
The plan was a “grave insult” to European football culture and a “threat” to clubs, the French Football Association said on Tuesday.
The Spanish government has also released its demands, which include three teams from La Liga: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.
Fabrizio Zaccari, head of Brussels’ support club in Lazio, one of Rome’s top teams, and did not take part in the project, said it would undermine loyalty to his favorite sport.
“It will completely undermine the system, create a nation that is closer to American business and only benefits the participating groups,” he said. “But we should not be surprised. For years the economy has been ruining the game. ”
Additional reports of Daniel Dombey in Madrid, Eleni Varvitsioti in Athens, Davide Ghiglione in Rome and Erika Solomon in Berlin