French football boss backs sanctions on European Super League's founding rebels
French football’s top administrator Noël Le Graët on Tuesday condemned as scandalous the creation of a 20-team European Super League (ESL) and called for the 12 founding members of the breakaway to be punished if their rebellion continued.
Le Graët, the president of the French Football Federation, told the French sports newspaper L’Equipe: “We must still give ourselves a chance for peace. This cannot go unpunished if they persist on this path that does not seem realistic. It is truly scandalous.”
Uefa and Fifa, the European and world game’s governing bodies, have both criticised the ESL. Uefa says Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid - three of the 12 - could be thrown out of its Champions League competition even though they are in the semi-finals.
Fifa has warned that players from the breakaway clubs could be banned from competing in the World Cup.
Le Graët, who is attending a meeting of Uefa executives in Montreux in Switzerland, added: "The presidents of Uefa and Fifa are on the same wavelength. They have both spoken out against this project.
“We must find a formula so that it does not go to the end. "
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, one of the most powerful men in German football, echoed Le Graët’s sentiments.
“The important thing is to get the dialogue going again," the chairman of the Bayern Munich board said in an interview on Tuesday with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“I hope we can find a solution because the ESL is hurting the whole of European soccer. We must avoid it.”
Bayern, the Bundesliga champions, have been invited to join the elite group along with Borussia Dortmund.
Rummenigge said his club had had veered away from signing up for two reasons.
"We are happy to play in the Champions League and we do not forget the responsibility we have towards our fans, who are globally against the reform. We are very aware of this responsibility."
Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Liverpool emerged as the other founding members from England.
AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus form the Italian contingent. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have allied themselves with Real Madrid from Spain.
The move of the self-styled giants has led to widespread condemnation of the plan. French president Emmanuel Macron and the British prime minister Boris Johnson have been among the leading politicians to criticise the schism.
On Tuesday, Johnson held a meeting with his culture secretary - whose remit includes sport - as well as the heads of the Football Association and Premier League about how to counter the breakaway.
Representatives of fans’ groups from Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were also involved.
A formal statement from Johnson’s office said he would give “unwavering support” to football authorities over the issue. He also condemned the ESL’s “closed shop” plan.
The ESL wants 20 teams in two groups of 10 to play each other home and away from this autumn. The top three from each division will advance to the quarter-finals.
Sides finishing fourth and fifth from each pool would progress to a play-off for the last two spots in the quarters.
From then two-legged knockout ties would take place until a one-off final at a neutral venue.
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