FIFA president Gianni Infantino is expected to deliver his verdict on the European Super League on Tuesday after the widely condemned breakaway competition triggered threats of legal action and punitive measures.
European body UEFA will look to support from the world football chief at its congress in Switzerland as it attempts to quash an initiative that threatens its prized Champions League and the health of domestic competitions such as England’s Premier League.
Twelve powerful clubs — six from England, and three each from Spain and Italy — have signed up for the Super League, which offers guaranteed spots for its founding members and billions of dollars in payments.
Currently, clubs have to qualify for the Champions League each year through their national competitions, and face a lengthy group phase before reaching the high-profile latter stages.
The plan prompted a furious reaction from fans and officials, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin saying it was motivated by “greediness, selfishness and narcissism”, and Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp saying its closed nature was “not right”.
Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the English clubs involved, together with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid from Spain and Italy’s Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
Three more clubs are expected to sign up, including “at least two” from France, a source told AFP. Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain are a notable absentee, while Bayern Munich, the reigning European champions, have distanced themselves from the project.
Five more clubs will qualify annually for the 20-team, midweek competition, where two groups of 10 will precede two-legged quarter- and semi-finals and a one-off final. The competition is due for launch “as soon as is practicable”.
It constitutes a serious threat to UEFA, who together with the English, Spanish and Italian football authorities said the clubs could be banned from domestic and European competition.
The British government also said it was considering invoking competition law to block the breakaway.
FIFA’s reaction so far, ahead of Infantino’s speech at the opening of the UEFA congress, has been markedly less strident, expressing “disapproval” and calling for dialogue.
The world body’s stance is likely to be crucial. In January, FIFA and the six global confederations warned that any club or player involved in a breakaway would be ineligible for FIFA competitions.