Uefa's president, Aleksander Ceferin, has insisted that players who join the new European Super League will be banned from World Cups and European Championships if the breakaway materialises.
Ceferin admitted it was unlikely a ban would come into effect in time for Euro 2020, which starts in June, but left no one in any doubt at his anger at the Super League, which he called a “disgraceful and self-serving proposal from clubs motivated by greed”.
“The players who will play in teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros, so they will not be able to represent their national teams at any matches,” he said. “These cynical plans are completely against what football should be. This idea is a spit in the face of all football lovers and society as well. I’m not going to call them the Dirty Dozen, but . . . ”
He added: “They write in their press release about solidarity, they don’t know ‘S’ about solidarity. They want to be famous. They will be famous in the wrong way.”
Ceferin also suggested it was not impossible that domestic leagues could kick out teams that have broken away. “This is the decision of domestic leagues but we are in contact with them and I’m sure they will do the same sanctions, as we will do within the law, of course,” he said.
Earlier Uefa confirmed it would plough on with a revamped 36-club Champions League from 2024 whether or not the European Super League is established. However, Ceferin admitted he was blindsided by the announcement on Sunday.
"I've seen many things in my life... but I've never ever seen people like that," he said. "If I start with Ed Woodward, " he added of Manchester United's executive vice-chairman, "I didn't have much contact with him but he called me last Thursday in the evening, saying that he's very satisfied with the reforms, that he fully supports the reforms, and that the only thing he would like to speak about is financial fair play. And obviously he already signed something else.
Ceferin was even blunter when talking about the Juventus chairman, Andrea Agnelli. "He's probably the biggest disappointment of all," he said. "I don't want to be too personal. But the fact is I've never seen a person lie so many times, so persistently. That he did was unbelievable. I spoke with him on Saturday afternoon. He says: 'These are only rumours. Don't worry, nothing is going on.' And then he said: 'I'll call you in one hour.' And he turned off the phone. Next day, we get the announcement. I've seen many things in my life but not a situation like that. Obviously, greediness is so strong that all the human values evaporate."
Earlier, Ceferin was asked whether it is right for a player who might have signed with a club years ago to be banned from his national team if that club joins the breakaway. “Yeah, it’s an interesting question, and I think that this is one of the legal questions,” he said.
Ceferin ended his punchy press conference with a final retort to the clubs that have decided to leave. “How can you see all your fans protesting and you don’t care?” he said. “You are full of money anyway, but you want more and more and more. I’ve had enough that football clubs are assets – they are part of our history.”
Meanwhile, The Premier League’s “Other 14” clubs have reacted furiously to the threat of a European Super League and have begun to brainstorm ideas that could derail it, including possible sanctions against the breakaway six.
There was surprise at the Premier League's decision not to convene an emergency meeting of all 20 clubs on Monday to discuss the will of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham to become founding members of the new competition, which stands to gravely affect the top division of English football.
But there is the feeling among the 14 remainers that there are measures open to them as a collective which would make it difficult for the six to achieve their aim of joining the Super League while remaining a part of the Premier League. They will meet the Premier League on Tuesday for discussions.
Expel the rebels
The 14 want to know whether the Premier League can expel the rebels but also whether they could frustrate them by refusing to play against them. Could the 14 vote in a rule that fixes a points deduction for every time a club plays in an unsanctioned tournament?
The “Big Six” have repeatedly explored ways to exert greater influence in the Premier League, to enjoy larger slices of revenues which they feel their status merits only to be frustrated by the rule which states 14 votes are needed in order to drive major changes.
This led, most recently, to Project Big Picture being blocked and the clubs agreeing to a strategic, collaborative review, in which they might make certain concessions towards one another. Among the things to irk the 14 is that while these meetings have been going on, the six were clearly working on a plan that would render everything under discussion irrelevant.
The six’s nuclear option has always been to threaten to leave the Premier League and they have said it with sufficient frequency as for it to ring hollow. Could this yet be the latest and most aggressive attempt to force the Premier League to bow to their demands over voting structures, with the biggest clubs getting the loudest say rather one vote per club? The 14 remain wary of being drawn into negotiations with the six that could dilute their rights as they stand.