‘Rebel’ players to be hit with World Cup ban
Infantino’s warning over super league proposals Fifa chief has his own expansion ideas
Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa, has confirmed that football’s biggest names would be banned from the World Cup if they played in a breakaway European super league.
Infantino, speaking to reporters at Fifa’s headquarters in Switzerland, said the governing body would punish clubs who turned their backs on the existing domestic and European competitions.
Telegraph Sport disclosed on Sunday that Uefa and Fifa had the option of warning all players they could become ineligible for World Cups and European Championships if clubs pressed ahead with proposals to form their own league by 2021.
Yesterday, Infantino confirmed players would not be able to play in the breakaway and still be picked for their national teams in competitive matches. He also claimed his proposal for an expanded Club World Cup, with 12 teams from Europe, would raise extra revenue.
“Either you are in or you are out,” Infantino said. “This includes everything.”
Talk of a longthreatened super league was revived on Friday when German magazine Der Spiegel published confidential documents and emails from clubs and football governing bodies in its “Football Leaks” series.
Real Madrid were alleged to be working with consultants on a 16-team super league to kick off in 2021, effectively replacing the Champions League. The plan called for 11 clubs from Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France to get ownership stakes and risk-free super league membership for 20 years, with five more from those countries invited. The Government is understood to “fully oppose” any Premier League team proposals to join forces with Real, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris St-germain, AC Milan and Bayern Munich.
“The idea is, if you break away, you break away. You don’t keep one foot in and one foot out,” Fifa’s legal director, Alasdair Bell, said. Infantino said his plan, potentially featuring at least 12 European clubs in a 24-team line-up and worth a promised $3 billion (£761 million) every four years, was a good alternative to a private closed league. “The Club World Cup is the answer to any attempt to even think about breakaway leagues,” he said. The Fifa chief also defended his controversial proposal to fast-track his plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams by 2022. The plan has already been agreed for 2026, but Infantino is keen to introduce it for Qatar, which would need to share hosting duties with neighbouring countries.
Old pals’ act: Wayne Rooney celebrates with Harry Kane after the Spurs striker’s goal against Switzerland in 2015
Tough talk: Gianni Infantino