Uefa to confront football's G14 elite

The G-14 group of clubs - which includes Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United - were warned yesterday that they faced expulsion from domestic football if they continued to pursue the formation of a European super league.

The threat came from Uefa, football's European governing body, in a forthright response both to a leaked document proposing such a league and an ongoing court case in Belgium which could destabilise international football.

Addressing the Uefa Congress in Budapest, Lars-Christer Olsson, the chief executive officer, said: "When inviting clubs into Uefa competitions [we could] make the invitations conditional upon those clubs agreeing on the principle of our sporting structures."

Those principles were outlined in a resolution passed unanimously by Uefa's 52 member countries. This declared: "Football is about fairness, opportunity, excitement and variety, it is not a closed shop, where only the richest and most powerful are invited to the table. Uefa will not tolerate a structure or system where smaller clubs, smaller nations and all their supporters never have the chance to follow their dream. This is not what Uefa is about, this is not what Europe is about, this is not what football is about.

"These principles reflect a reality. The reality is that football is not just a money-making exercise, not just a business." This is not the ethos behind G-14, a self-appointed collection of wealthy clubs which was set up six years ago in the wake of the failure of a previous attempt to establish a super league in 1998.

The initial 14 clubs in the group included Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona, Milan, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Two years later the group expanded to 18 clubs with Arsenal among the recruits. Despite subsequent representations Chelsea have failed to join this élite, a galling fact considering Bayer Leverkusen, Paris St-Germain and PSV Eindhoven are involved.

The difference between G-14 and Uefa can be summed up by voting rights. In Uefa meetings it is one member, one vote. Thus Germany, with three World Cup wins and 5.2 million registered players, have as many votes as Malta, which has never been to a World Cup and has 5,544 registered players. In G-14 clubs which have won the European Cup or Champions' League, such as Liverpool, have two votes while other clubs, such as Arsenal, have only one.

It is this group Uefa were referring to in their resolution when they described a "self-appointed group of clubs" which "are not interested in protecting competition, but only interested in protecting themselves and their economic interests and in dictating their conditions on others".

Uefa added: "We will leave the door open for clubs from smaller nations to play at the top level of European club football. We will not close the door, which seems to be what this self-appointed group of clubs wants to do."

This was a reference to the super-league plans which were leaked at the weekend. G-14 subsequently dismissed them as "a draft document, not policy". Uefa clearly did not believe this denial. Their resolution added: "Uefa will not stand in the way of those who want to leave the family [which also means the domestic competitions] and who do not share our sporting values. But you cannot 'pick and choose'."

Should G-14 choose to go it alone their super league would flounder. With no relegation, or Champions' League qualification, it would have to invent a United States-style conference and play-off system to sustain season-long interest. And even then, how many fans across Europe would tune in to watch a mid-table match between Bayer Leverkusen and Porto?

The other contentious issue is being debated in a courtroom in Charleroi. Royal Charleroi are suing the sport's world governing body, Fifa, for £864,000 in damages after one of their players, Abdelmajid Oulmers, was injured on international duty with Morocco. The figure is, Charleroi claim, based on the cost of their failing to gain entry to European competition, a feat they believe they would have achieved had Oulmers not been injured.

The case has ramifications beyond Belgium because Charleroi's costs are being met by G-14, who are claiming £595m from Fifa as compensation for the release of their players for international duty. Some nations including England already pay compensation when players are injured on international duty, but it would clearly bankrupt Ivory Coast were, say, Didier Drogba to break a leg while playing for them and the Ivorians had to pick up his wages while he recuperated.

G-14's argument is that a central fund could be established, financed by income from the World Cup and continental championships. While this seems reasonable - though it is clubs that set the astronomic wage levels, not countries - Uefa and Fifa are aware that G-14's long-term goal is for national football associations to cover players' wages while they are on international duty and to weaken regulations forcing clubs to release players. Thus Uefa's resolution stated among their key principles was "the rule that clubs must release players for the national team... to ensure that national teams are composed of the best players".

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, thanked the associations for their backing at a "critical time for world football". Blatter added: "Can you conceive football without the national teams or the national associations? It would mean the collapse of the whole pyramid of football because of the élitism of a few."

The focus now moves to Belgium. The irony is that, should G-14 have their way, clubs like Charleroi would never be allowed near a super league.

Laying it on the line Uefa's statement of core principles and beliefs

* 1 Football is constantly ... adapting to new challenges. It is a key function of Uefa to face these challenges and find solutions which fit the future but which also respect the historic ethos of our sport. It is crucial that, when we face the future, we never lose sight of our core principles and beliefs.

* 2 Football is about fairness, opportunity, excitement and variety. It is not a closed shop, where only the richest and most powerful are invited to the table. Uefa will not tolerate a structure or system where smaller clubs, smaller nations and all their supporters never have the chance to follow their dream. This is not what Uefa is about, this is not what Europe is about, this is not what football is about.

* 3 These principles reflect a ... that football is not just a money-making exercise, not just a business. We have rules and principles that reflect our values and which protect the interests of our sport and ... the millions of fans. Among these principles is the rule that clubs must release players for the national team.

* 4 Why do we have the rule on player release? To ensure that national teams are composed of the best players that each ... country has to offer. Furthermore, the rule ensures that players will always have the opportunity of representing their country... This in turn means that all nations, particularly smaller nations, have a chance to compete and maybe one day to even win a big event, like the World Cup or the European Championship.

* 5 A self-appointed group of clubs has challenged this rule. They are not interested in protecting competition, but only interested in protecting themselves and their economic interests and in dictating their conditions on others. This group of clubs does not care if there is less competition between nations and less competition between clubs. But Uefa does care, and that is why we will defend the rule and are working together with Fifa to do so.

* 6 Uefa will also defend the open nature and central marketing structure of the Uefa Champions' League. Just like the player release rule, this is also an expression of solidarity in European football. We will leave the door open for clubs from smaller nations to play at the top level of European club football. We will not close the door, which seems to be what this self-appointed group of clubs wants to do.

* 7 Uefa will not stand in the way of those who want to leave the family (which also means the domestic competitions) and who do not share our sporting values. But you cannot "pick and choose"... Our core beliefs are set in stone. All national associations stand... with Uefa on this fundamental issue.

The G-14 membership

* MILAN

European Cup finals (wins): 10 (6)

* AJAX

European Cup: 6 (4)

* ARSENAL

European Cup: None

* BAYER LEVERKUSEN

European Cup: 1 (0)

* BORUSSIA DORTMUND

European Cup final: 1 (1)

* BARCELONA

European Cup final: 4 (1)

* BAYERN MUNICH

European Cup: 7 (4)

* INTERNAZIONALE

European Cup: 4 (2)

* PORTO

European Cup: 2 (2)

* JUVENTUS

European Cup: 7 (2)

* LIVERPOOL

European Cup: 6 (5)

* MANCHESTER UTD

European Cup: 2 (2)

* MARSEILLES

European Cup: 2 (1)

* LYON

European Cup: None.

* PARIS ST-GERMAIN

European Cup: None.

* PSV EINDHOVEN

European Cup: 1 (1)

* REAL MADRID

European Cup: 12 (9)

* VALENCIA

European Cup: 2 (0).

News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss