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UEFA head Ceferin says Super League ‘is over’

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VIENNA: The Super League project “is over once and for all or at least for 20 years,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Wednesday.

“I don’t like to call it Super league because it’s everything but Super League,” said the Slovenian after the Congress of the governing body of European football in Vienna.

Twelve of Europe’s biggest clubs signed up to the proposed new competition last April but it collapsed within days following a fierce backlash from their own players and fans, as well as governments and football’s governing bodies.

Nine clubs distanced themselves from the project but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain on board with the concept.

Ceferin — speaking the day after UEFA announced a revamp of all their club competitions including the flagship Champions League — said the trio had no chance of reviving it.

“For me, this project is over once and for all or at least for 20 years. I don’t know what will happen later,” Ceferin told a press conference.

He declined to comment on UEFA’s disciplinary proceedings against the three hold-outs.

A Madrid judge in April upheld a UEFA appeal and lifted the protection from punishment the Super league clubs obtained from another Spanish court a year earlier.

Proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) are also underway in response to a query last year from a Spanish judge on whether UEFA is abusing its “dominant position” “We have to respect the courts and wait for the final decision. We are not in a hurry,” said 54-year-old Ceferin, a sports lawyer before entering football administration.

Ceferin’s “open” model of football received support in Vienna from Margeritis Schinas, the vice president of the European Commission, who attended the Congress.

The CJEU should give its answer at the end of the year.

“They claim we have monopoly and I said many times that nobody has to play in our competition,” Ceferin said on Wednesday.

“No Federation has to be a member of UEFA. They have all the rights to create their own UEFA, they have all the right to play their own competition but of course, in our regulations, if you play another competition you cannot play our competition.

“And this is far from being a monopoly”.

Ceferin also said that the fan violence that erupted during the European Championship final between England and Italy at Wembley Stadium last year is unacceptable and something that must never happen again.

The July 11 final, won by Italy in a penalty shootout, was marred by clashes between supporters and officials in and around England’s national stadium, with hundreds of ticketless fans breaching security cordons.

An independent review conducted by Baroness Louise Casey in December stated it was “clear we were close to fatalities and/or life-changing injuries for some, potentially many” of the fans in attendance after 17 mass breaches of Wembley’s gates.

England’s Football Association said it was appalled at the significant levels of crowd disorder and apologised.

Ceferin said that the sport had to recognise both its successes as well as its failings.

“We still have many problems to solve to make our sport a role model and greater source of inspiration than it is today,” Ceferin said.

“The images of violence at Wembley stadium at last year’s Euro final are unacceptable. When a family goes to see a match of any competition, it should be a time for fun, celebration and enjoyment. People should feel safe in and around a stadium.

“They should never feel in danger. With the authorities’ help, this cannot happen again. Ever.”

Italy will face Copa America champions Argentina on June 1 at Wembley in a game entitled the “Finalissima” which was agreed in September shortly after UEFA and South America’s CONMEBOL strongly opposed FIFA’s plans for a biennial World Cup.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022

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