Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus Respond to UEFA 'Threats' Over Failed Super League

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 8, 2021

BRAZIL - 2021/04/20: In this photo illustration, The Super League logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen and the logo of  UEFA (Union of European Football Associations). (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid released a joint statement Saturday in response to "threats" from UEFA to distance themselves from the failed European Super League proposal.

"The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats and offenses to abandon the project.

"This is intolerable under the rule of law and Tribunals have already ruled in favor of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending."

UEFA announced Friday it reached an agreement with nine of the 12 Super League founding members on "reintegration measures," which included a future commitment to UEFA club competitions.

The statement noted the cases of Barca, Juve and Real Madrid would be referred to the governing body's disciplinary sector for "whatever action it deems appropriate."

Although the holdout clubs said they're offering to "reconsider" their stance, they remain so far unwilling to completely abandon the idea of a lucrative alternative to the UEFA Champions League:

"We are fully aware of the diversity of reactions to the Super League initiative and, consequently, of the need to reflect on the reasons for some of them. We are ready to reconsider the proposed approach, as necessary.

"However, we would be highly irresponsible if, being aware of the needs and systemic crisis in the football sector... we abandoned such mission to provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry."

The Super League's 12 founding members, which would have been joined by three other permanent clubs and five yearly qualifiers under the proposed plan, sold the idea on the basis the infusion of money could have had a trickle-down effect to help save European football.

It was met with extreme backlash from fans, who saw the effort as a greedy push from owners of the continent's richest clubs, and UEFA, which saw the ESL as a direct threat to the UCL and threatened to ban players who took part from future UEFA and FIFA tournaments, including the World Cup.

The Super League suspended operations after just two days as clubs quickly backed out amid the widespread criticism, with most issuing apologies to their supporters for the failed effort.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, one of the ESL's staunchest defenders, issued a warning to AS' Joaquin Maroto in late April about the future of European football without a bolder plan than the proposed 2024 Champions League restructure:

"The truth is, no. Not the format, that nobody understands, not the time period, because by 2024...either we fix this before or all the clubs go bankrupt. There will be a mutiny of the teams as they go bankrupt, because the only ones who will survive will be state financed clubs or who have multimillionaire owners, who are willing, for their own entertainment, to lose hundreds of millions [of euros] each season."

Friday's agreement between UEFA and the Super League members who've abandoned the project leaves little chance of it being revived because clubs granted the governing body the right to issue fines of up to €150 million for playing in an "unauthorized competition" (€100 million) or a breach of the "club commitment declaration" (€50 million).

Without that large contingent of high-profile clubs, it's hard to imagine any breakaway effort gaining traction as a true alternative to the Champions League.

So the ball rests at the feet of Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid. They must decide whether to continue to explore their options or come to terms with UEFA to leave the Super League in the rear-view mirror.