Uefa to confront football's G14 elite - European - Football - The Independent

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).

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week