Since the summer, Perez found a new ally in Joel Glazer, the chairman of Manchester United, who has also joined forces with the American owners of Liverpool in an effort to force through changes to the Premier League that would benefit his team. Glazer has been promoting the idea of the Super League, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. A spokesman for United said the team would not comment.
The joint announcement by FIFA and the six confederations follows talks on Monday between Infantino and his counterpart at UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin. The two men have had a bumpy relationship since 2018 when Infantino announced his ambitions for FIFA’s own club competitions and growing suggestions of his involvement in the breakaway talks. Infantino has always publicly denied any interest in supporting a European breakaway.
Ceferin has frequently launched broadsides against the Super League discussions. “It would be hard to think of a more selfish and egotistical scheme,” he said after one iteration of a breakaway was discussed. “It would clearly ruin football around the world; for the players, for the fans and for everyone connected with the game — all for the benefit of a tiny number of people.”
UEFA’s proposals for the new version of the Champions League go a long way to meeting the demands of the biggest clubs for an expanded tournament. If agreed, the tournament will feature 36 teams instead of the 32 it currently does, with two of those places reserved for teams that have been historically successful in European competition but failed to meet the qualification criteria. That would mean the possibility of a return to top tier action for the likes of A.C. Milan, a soccer heavyweight that has fallen on hard times. UEFA’s reforms would also scrap the current opening stage in which teams are separated into eight groups of four, and instead place them into one table, with qualifiers for the knockouts determined by results after each team has played as many as 10 games.
Access to the competition, unlike the Super League, would largely be from the domestic leagues, ensuring they remain relevant.
The European Leagues, an umbrella group for many of the continent’s leagues, issued a statement endorsing the declaration against the Super League by the governing bodies.
“The European Leagues’ board of directors has discussed the initiative of some European football clubs to create a closed European Super League for a limited number of clubs similar to those franchise models operating in North America,” the group said.
“UEFA and the other football Confederations from all over the world have, together with FIFA, published a strong statement against this initiative and our member leagues are unanimously supporting that statement.”