‘Rebel’ play­ers to be hit with World Cup ban

In­fantino’s warn­ing over su­per league pro­pos­als Fifa chief has his own ex­pan­sion ideas

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By Tom Mor­gan SPORTS NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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

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