KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA has formally slapped down speculation that it views with any interest or sympathy the notional European Super League project floated publicly recently by the presidents of both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The world football federation has been suspected in some quarters of mischievously providing informal encouragement for the regularly recurring project which had been given new wings by the financial crisis induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However a lengthy statement issued by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and heads of the six regional confederations has sought to quash such talk once and for all. In fact, the move may backfire by reigniting interest and headlines about the project which, at one stage, had apparently gained the financial attention of J P Morgan.
The Infantino-led statement says the international game’s leaders wanted “to reiterate and strongly emphasise that such a competition would not be recognised by either FIFA or the respective confederation.
“Any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation.”
The statement has been co-signed by the presidents of the six regional confederations – Asia’s Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, acting African confederation leader Constant Omari, CONCACAF’s Vittorio Montagliani, CONMEBOL’s Alejandro Domínguez, Oceania’s Lambert Maltock and UEFA’s Aleksander Čeferin.
CONCACAF is the central and north American governing body and CONMEBOL runs football in South America.
European federation president Ceferin will be the most satisfied with the statement at a time when he has more than enough immediate challenges on his political and administrative plate.
These notably include quite how to stage the rescheduled, pandemic-battered European Championship finals in June and July and the need to find internal consensus on a reformatted Champions League.
Pressure from the richest clubs on the latter issue has been one of the ‘soft threats’ behind the super league debate.
As far as FIFA is concerned, talk of a European super league risks distracting the focus of potential sponsor and broadcasting partners for the world federation’s own expanded Club World Cup.
This latter competition, a particular favourite of Infantino, should have kicked off this coming summer in China. Instead it had to be postponed into the far distance by both the calendar chaos prompted by the pandemic plus delays in the search for financial guarantors.
Underlining the concern to protect the Club World Cup, the FIFA statement added: “The confederations recognise the FIFA Club World Cup, in its current and new format, as the only worldwide club competition while FIFA recognises the club competitions organised by the confederations as the only club continental competitions.”
The ‘old style’ Club World Cup is being staged next month in Qatar. It should have taken place last December.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez talked up a debate over a super league last December and his comments were then echoed by the outgoing Barcelona supremo Josep Maria Bartomeu.
FIFA statement in full:
In light of recent media speculation about the creation of a closed European ‘Super League’ by some European clubs, FIFA and the six confederations (AFC, CAF, Concacaf, CONMEBOL, OFC and UEFA) once again would like to reiterate and strongly emphasise that such a competition would not be recognised by either FIFA or the respective confederation.
Any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation.
As per the FIFA and confederations statutes, all competitions should be organised or recognised by the relevant body at their respective level, by FIFA at the global level and by the confederations at the continental level.
In this respect, the confederations recognise the FIFA Club World Cup, in its current and new format, as the only worldwide club competition while FIFA recognises the club competitions organised by the confederations as the only club continental competitions.
The universal principles of sporting merit, solidarity, promotion and relegation, and subsidiarity are the foundation of the football pyramid that ensures football’s global success and are, as such, enshrined in the FIFA and confederation statutes.
Football has a long and successful history thanks to these principles. Participation in global and continental competitions should always be won on the pitch.
Gianni Infantino – FIFA President
Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa – AFC President
Constant Omari – CAF Acting President
Vittorio Montagliani – Concacaf President
Alejandro Domínguez – CONMEBOL President
Lambert Maltock – OFC President
Aleksander Čeferin – UEFA President