KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Nasser Al-Khelaifi, converted almost overnight from a figure of derision to football’s ultimate good guy, is new chairman of the battered European Club Association.
The Qatari has attracted controversy over the past decade for the ever-extending media rights tentacles of the beIN Media Group he heads and for pouring apparently limitless funds into turning Paris Saint-Germain into one of Europe’s most powerful clubs.
His status saw him not only appointed to the executive committee of the 246-strong ECA but becoming one of its two representatives on the exco of European federation UEFA.
Simultaneously, however, he is contesting an appeal by Swiss prosecutors against his being cleared over an allegation that he had colluded illicitly with ex-FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke to acquire World Cup TV rights.
All that was forgotten at the start of this week when Al-Khelaifi refused to take PSG into the Super League venture and was thanked personally and publicly by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin during the governing body’s congress on Tuesday.
Now he has been appointed to step up to replace disgraced Italian Andrea Agnelli as new president of ECA whose members the Juventus supremo had betrayed by helping lead the breakaway Super League.
All 12 Super League clubs quit ECA at the weekend so a reorganised ECA executive line-up was needed and has now been duly confirmed.
Al-Khelaifi said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed as chairman. The leadership, integrity and togetherness of our organisation has never been more required than at this pivotal moment in European football.
ECA also welcomed the collapse of the Super League. A statement said:
Following the unprecedented events of recent days which has seen attempts to undermine the entire European football community, ECA – representing the leading football clubs of Europe – welcomes the decision from its former member clubs not to pursue their purported “Super League” project, following the seismic and universal condemnation of the project by the entire football community and across society as a whole.
ECA firmly believes this project could not succeed because football, at its core, is based on openness, sporting excellence and an inherent connection between everyone across the football family.
Football is for everybody.
Recent events have been a reminder that club owners are merely custodians of their clubs, which are historic beacons that mean so much to fans and their communities.
ECA believes that it is the responsibility of every member club to ensure that we develop football and leave it in a better place for the next generation; not to dismantle it purely for financial gain.