UEFA is striking back against the proposed European Super League, saying players from participating clubs will be banned from the World Cup and Euros.
"We are all united against this nonsense of a project. ... The players that will play in the closed league will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros," UEFA President Alex Ceferin said Monday.
Twelve of Europe's most powerful clubs announced the formation of the Super League on Sunday, a competition that seeks to reshape the power structure of European club soccer. The plan calls for a constant group of 15 teams to be joined by five rotating champions from other leagues, ostensibly replacing the UEFA Champions League as the top European club competition.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur are set as the current founding members.
"By bringing together the world's greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid," said Joel Glazer, co-owner of Manchester United and vice chairman of the Super League.
Undeterred by the Super League, UEFA announced a new format for the Champions League that will include 32 teams beginning with the 2024-25 season. The new Champions League format seeks to make the competition more profitable, which was one of the reasons some of the Super League clubs looked to form their own league.
It's unclear if the banishment from international competition will deter Super League members. Playing for one's country in the World Cup is seen as among the highest honors for soccer players.
On the flip side, FIFA will have to consider the ramifications of the world's top players not being able to participate in the World Cup. Eliminating the Super League clubs would wipe out a majority of soccer's top stars and arguably cause the World Cup to lose some of its luster.
This is shaping up to be a high-stakes game of chicken with the future of European soccer on the line.