Gianni Infantino Threatens World Cup Bans for Players in Potential Super League

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2018

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks during an inauguration ceremony for the new building of the Asia Football Confederation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Vincent Thian/Associated Press

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said players at clubs willing to play in a European Super League could be banned from the World Cup. 

Infantino spoke on Wednesday and addressed the potential of a breakaway league comprised of Europe's biggest names, including Bayern Munich and Barcelona, per Graham Dunbar of the Associated Press: "Either you are in or you are out. This includes everything."

Players such as Barca attacking talisman Lionel Messi, Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid's Gareth Bale could be prohibited in playing in the biggest sanctioned tournaments at both international and club level if Infantino's restrictions applied.

Threatening to ban top players could have many stars thinking twice about breaking away with their clubs. Those same stars putting pressure on their teams could scupper the idea of a Super League before it gets going.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are among the clubs touted as wanting to join a proposed breakaway super league.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are among the clubs touted as wanting to join a proposed breakaway super league.Power Sport Images/Getty Images

The idea of an elite league comprised of the continent's biggest clubs is troubling for many. However, German publication Der Spiegel (h/t Goal) published documents from Football Leaks outlining talks of starting such a league as early as 2021, with Real, Barcelona, Bayern and Manchester United among those set to approve and join the new structure.

Opinion is understandably divided on the proposal. The Guardian's Sean Ingle has reported the Association of European Leagues has warned against the plan.

This group represents over 900 clubs from across the continent and said the elite grouping of so-called super clubs would have "serious and lasting implications."

However, Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph believes domestic leagues would not only survive but thrive without the regular participation of the heavyweight names that usually dominate them:

"As well as giving other teams the chance to win the cups in their absence, there could also be an opportunity to impose a more stringent homegrown players rule in the Premier League, which would, in theory, be far easier to implement in a post-Brexit UK."

"The big clubs would be able to continue playing in their domestic leagues, but they would, like everybody else, be forced to play a set number of homegrown players in these games, a proactive measure that would be welcomed by the Football Association as they search for ways to halt the decline of English players in the top flight."

Some believe domestic leagues such as the Premier League might change for the better without its top clubs involved as often.
Some believe domestic leagues such as the Premier League might change for the better without its top clubs involved as often.Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Even if Edwards is right and some domestic leagues unearth homegrown products who become the next stars, the prestige of familiar trophies such as the Premier League and FA Cup would be cheapened if the quality of competition for them deteriorates.

It's understandable why Infantino is keen to reject the idea of a Super League. The marquee entity would operate outside the jurisdiction of world's football's governing body, further damaging the credibility of the sport's most notable organisation.

However, the FIFA boss may have another motivation. Dunbar also noted how Infantino locked horns with Europe's biggest teams over a proposed Club World Cup to be made up of 24 teams, with 12 coming from Europe.

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