Gianni Infantino has reiterated and made clear that Fifa, the world’s governing body for the sport of football, are firmly against the European Super League plans which have dominated headlines over the past 48 hours.
While the outpouring of anger and emotion has in several cases been instantaneous and with the game as a whole in mind, it has also in other cases been rather more self-serving and predictable, with certain bodies fearful and looking to protect their own interests. Fifa, however, stands above the individual components of the argument in theory: they neither directly run the competitions which stand to lose out nor are responsible for the changes within them. For Infantino to then declare his organisation firmly against the Super League proposals should serve to underline both the nature of how fundamental a break the new competition would be, and also to make it clear to the clubs involved that, if they proceed, they would stand alone.
Talking about the “terrible words” linked with the game “which should give joy to everyone”, the president reminded clubs to gain long-term perspective, not just for the future but for the past which has built the sport into what it is today.
“Of course I am speaking about this Super League project,” he said at the Uefa Congress. “Let me be extremely clear: Fifa is an organisation which is built on values. The values, the true values of sport. On the statutes which define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, the leagues, associations, clubs and players.
“At Fifa we can only strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, a Super League which is a closed shop, a breakaway from the current institutions. Which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of Fifa’s disapproval.
“There is a lot to throw away for maybe a short-term financial gain of some. People need to think very carefully. They need to reflect, and assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders but of all the people. Of all the fans. Of all those which have contributed to create what European football is today.”
The Fifa president continued to make the point that there was a culture and foundation to the sport which required protecting.
Conversely, if clubs - the 12 founders and any who followed - decided to break with those traditions and pursue their own path, they would “be responsible” for the outcomes and there would be no half-measures, which seemed to allude to either the clubs being in the established leagues and competitions entirely, or in their own - not a mix-and-match combination.
“It goes back decades, more than a hundred years. People with love, with passion, with commitment have created all this. We need to protect this. It’s my task as Fifa president, it’s your task in Uefa, to protect the European model. To protect clubs, national teams.
“If some go their own way they need to be responsible for their choice.
“Concretely, either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in and half out. Everyone has to think about this and this has to be absolutely clear.
“But I don’t want to even think like that. Like Uefa, Fifa is a democratic organisation. Everyone can speak. They are all taken into account, always with respect of the institutions, leagues, associations. With respect for the history. With respect of the passion of so many people around the world.”
As Infantino pointed out, Fifa is similar to Uefa in some regards - and for many in the football world that would go for the drawbacks and limitations to their work, as much as the positives.
But for the two to side together against the Super League plans represents a major obstacle for those determined to push through and form the breakaway competition.
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