FIFPro, European Leagues call for reform in wake of Super League threat

Metal figures of football players are seen in front of the words ‘European Super League’ and the Uefa logo in this illustration taken April 20, 2021. — Reuters pic
Metal figures of football players are seen in front of the words ‘European Super League’ and the Uefa logo in this illustration taken April 20, 2021. — Reuters pic

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BRUSSELS, Oct 27 — Two key organisations in the running of European football on Tuesday announced a joint manifesto calling for greater influence over decisions affecting the future of the sport in the wake of the failed breakaway Super League project.

Global players union FIFPro held a policy forum in Brussels at which it unveiled the joint initiative with the European Leagues organisation, which represents over one thousand clubs from 30 countries across the continent.

It has been a turbulent few months for football governance, with 12 clubs stunning the sport in April by announcing a breakaway European Super League, only for their plan to unravel in a matter of a few days in the face of widespread opposition.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain attached to the project despite the other nine clubs — including six from the Premier League — quickly backing out.

Meanwhile FIFA is struggling to find consensus on controversial plans to hold the World Cup every two years.

“The current system of government is no longer capable of dealing with the decisions that need to be taken,” said the FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann at the event held in the shadow of the European Parliament.

Leading representatives from European football’s governing body Uefa, or from the influential European Club Association, were absent.

“We need everyone in the room for these discussions and unfortunately they are not,” Baer-Hoffmann said.

“To take big constructive decisions has become virtually impossible. It is time for significant change in the governance of football.”

The announcement of the manifesto came as representatives of the European Parliament on Tuesday called for mechanisms to be put in place to protect against the threat of a Super League.

“Sport is a right for everyone and we need to ensure that it is safe, accessible, inclusive and equal for all,” said Tomasz Frankowski, a Polish former player and now a member of the European Parliament.

The EU’s Sports Policy report also expressed opposition to the biennial World Cup proposals, saying “sports organisations must respect the established frequency of major international sports events”.

Members of leagues and organisations from across the continent who gathered in Brussels complained about the lack of dialogue with Fifa over the proposals to play the World Cup every two years instead of the current four-year cycle.

The proposals have been championed by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in his role as Fifa’s director of global development.

“Wenger’s presentation was purely informational,” said Bobby Barnes, the deputy chief executive of the English Professional Footballers Association.

“We talk about being consulted as stakeholders. If your role within the game is to be acknowledged, you have to have these conversations before Wenger’s presentation.” — AFP

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