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FIFA and Olympic presidents speak out against closed 'Super League'

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FIFA and the International Olympic Committee have added their support to growing chorus of disapproval from players, clubs, leagues, national associations, governments and fans around the world.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino at UEFA Congress in Montreux
FIFA President Gianni Infantino at UEFA Congress in Montreux

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), both rallied to the side of UEFA on Tuesday, expressing their organisation's strong disapproval of a proposed breakaway 'European Super League'.

Speaking at the 45th UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland, Mr Infantino said: "I am here today as FIFA President to bring our full support to UEFA, to the 55 national associations, to the leagues, clubs, players and to all the fans, all over Europe but actually all over the world."

Infantino: 'Full support to UEFA'

"At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a 'Super League', which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the [national] associations, from UEFA and from FIFA, outside of the system," added Mr Infantino. "No doubt whatsoever of FIFA's disapproval of this. Full support to UEFA.

"If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choices," warned Mr Infantino, directly addressing the 12 football clubs in Italy, Spain and England who have signed up to compete in the closed 'Super League'. "They are responsible for their choice. Concretely, this means that either you are in or you are out; you cannot be half in or half out."

Bach: 'European sports model under threat'

IOC President Thomas Bach
IOC President Thomas Bach

Mr Bach warned that a closed 'Super League' represented a threat to the European Sports Model, which supports grassroots football development and where success is based on merit.

"It is under threat because the social mission of sport organisations is losing ground to the purely profit-oriented goals of commercial sport providers and investors," said the IOC President.

"If everything is only looked at from a business perspective, if only the economic rules are applied to measure the impact of sport on society, then the social mission of sport is lost."

Čeferin: 'If we stand together, we are unbeatable'

In expressing opposition to the proposed breakaway competition, announced by 12 clubs last weekend, FIFA and the IOC have added further momentum to UEFA's efforts to prevent the initiative. To date, players, clubs, leagues, national associations, governments and fans around the world have united in expressing outrage at the proposal.

In his own speech to UEFA's annual gathering of presidents and general secretaries representing its 55 member associations, President Aleksander Čeferin welcomed the support.

"You showed that you care about values. If we stand together, we are unbeatable," said Mr Čeferin.

Infantino: 'A lot to throw away, for short-term financial gain of some'

Mr Infantino underlined how the European Sports Model creates a strong bond between grassroots players and the top of the game, recalling his own experience of playing for an amateur club in Switzerland's lowest football division.

"For me, this (bond) has always been the magic of football. When we scored, we felt like Paolo Rossi scoring to win the World Cup," said the FIFA President, who took up his current role after spending 16 years at UEFA.

"I have invested a big part of my life to defend the European Sports Model, a model based on openness, integrity, on relegations and promotions," he added. "If you look at all this, we can see that there is a lot to throw away for maybe the short-term financial gain of some."