FIFA warns of World Cup ban for players in breakaway European Super League
ZURICH, Switzerland — Soccer’s biggest names would be banned from the World Cup if they played in a breakaway European Super League, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Wednesday.
Infantino, speaking to a small group of reporters at FIFA headquarters, said the governing body would punish players at clubs like Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich if they left soccer’s organized structure to form a privately-owned league.
“Either you are in or you are out,” Infantino said, listing the World Cup, European Championship and national leagues as competitions that players from breakaway teams could be excluded from. “This includes everything.”
Talk of a long-threatened super league was revived Friday when German magazine Der Spiegel published confidential documents and emails from clubs and soccer bodies in its “Football Leaks” series.
Real Madrid was revealed to be working with consultants on a 16-team Super League to kick off in 2021 — effectively replacing the Champions League and outside the control of UEFA.
The plan called for 11 storied clubs from Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France to get ownership stakes and risk-free Super League membership for 20 years, with five more clubs from those countries invited to play.
The breakaway from soccer’s historic hierarchy — FIFA, the six continental bodies and 211 national federations — would allow officials to ban players from major competitions, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“The idea is if you break away, you break away. You don’t keep one foot in and one foot out,” FIFA legal director Alasdair Bell. “That would be the general approach we would follow, but of course lawyers can debate this for a long time.”
Both Infantino and Bell were long-time staffers at UEFA, which has steadily changed Champions League prize money and entry rules to favour elite clubs and stall breakaway threats.