FIFA threatening ban from international tournaments for any players that take part in proposed 'Super League'; Some of Europe's biggest clubs are continuing to discuss forming a breakaway European Super League - which would mean no longer playing in the Champions League and Europa League
Thursday 21 January 2021 22:58, UK
The idea of a breakaway European 'Super League' has been emphatically rejected by FIFA and the game's six continental confederations, with the threat of a ban from the World Cup for any players that take part.
Renewed reports of such a competition surfaced late last year, with American banking giant JP Morgan said to be prepared to bankroll it.
Some of Europe's biggest clubs are continuing to discuss forming a breakaway European Super League - which would mean no longer playing in the Champions League and Europa League. The new league would be made up of 15 or 16 permanent members and three or four qualifiers.
However, a joint statement confirms the only such tournament that will receive official recognition is the Club World Cup, and any player involved in a breakaway event would be barred from being involved in official competitions.
The statement read: "In light of recent media speculation about the creation of a closed European 'Super League' by some European clubs, FIFA and the six confederations 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."
The statement added: "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."
FIFA president Gianni Infantino put his name to the statement, as did his counterparts at European football's governing body UEFA, the Confederation of African Football, the Asian Football Confederation, CONCACAF (which represents nations in North and Central America and the Caribbean), the Oceania Football Confederation and South America's CONMEBOL.
FIFA has given its backing to an expanded Club World Cup format. The first such tournament was due to take place in China this summer but has been indefinitely postponed to enable the delayed Euro 2020 and Copa America to take place.
Speaking in the Swiss media last October, Infantino said: "For me, I'm not interested in Bayern (Munich) versus Liverpool, but Bayern versus Boca Juniors from Buenos Aires.
"Liverpool has 180 million fans worldwide. Flamengo about 40 million. Flamengo has 39 million of these 40 million fans in Brazil, but Liverpool has perhaps only five million fans in England, the other 175 million around the world.
"I want clubs from outside Europe to have global appeal in the future. My vision is: there should be 50 clubs and 50 national teams that can become world champions."
Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu dramatically announced in his farewell speech in October the club intended to join a new European Super League.
FIFA responded at the time by saying it was unaware of any potential new competitions and reiterated its focus was on the Club World Cup.
Speaking this week, Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said his club would turn down an invitation to a European Super League if one were made.
Speaking late last year, Gary Neville said the idea of a European Super League is "another wound for football" and criticised the timing of talks during a pandemic as "obscene".
Reports suggested more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain were in negotiations about becoming founder members of the competition, with financiers assembling a $6bn (£4.6bn) funding package to assist its creation.
Neville, who joined an eight-strong group calling for independent regulation of English football, has spoken passionately about the need for reform and is calling for a fairer distribution of football's wealth.
He told Sky Sports News: "The big issue that I have with it, is that at this moment in time, in the middle of a pandemic and when football is on its knees at so many different levels - the FA, EFL clubs and non-League clubs are struggling - the idea that a $6bn package is being put together to set-up a new league when lower clubs are scrambling around to pay wages and stay in existence.
"It's another wound for football. It doesn't feel like the right time to be talking about this.
"I'm for progression of football, with new competitions and new formats, but we have got to look after the fabric of the game and what it means to the communities in this country.
"There is a position, potentially, for a new European League and for an amazing Premier League, a fantastically competitive EFL and funded grassroots and non-league football. There is enough money.
"If they can pull $6bn together for a European league then they can pull together £150-£200m to save the rest of football in this country."