La Liga chief Tebas accuses FIFA president Infantino of supporting European Super League
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Madrid (AFP) –
La Liga chief Javier Tebas has accused FIFA president Gianni Infantino of supporting the launch of a breakaway European Super League despite world football's governing body being officially opposed to the project.
In an interview with AFP, Tebas called on Infantino to deny he is in favour of the controversial breakaway competition that would transform the landscape of European football.
Tebas claims Infantino has been "working on" and "encouraging" its formation and said FIFA's president could even be given a role with the new league once it is set up.
When contacted by AFP, FIFA referred to its statement on January 21, which was signed by Infantino and said "such a competition would not be recognised by either FIFA or the respective confederation."
FIFA added any club or player participating would be banned from competitions organised by FIFA, such as the World Cup, although it is unclear if such a move would be legal.
Yet Tebas believes Infantino is in favour of a Super League and has even been helping clubs to organise it. "FIFA as an institution have been very clear but Infantino is not FIFA the institution, he is the president and he should clarify his position," Tebas said in an interview with AFP and The Sun newspaper in the UK.
"It is obvious that he has been involved in the meetings. He has been working on it and even been encouraging them to set it up."
"He is not against it," Tebas added. "He thought the project was good."
When asked why Infantino would support a European Super League, Tebas said: "Maybe he has a position in this future Super League that he is going to take up. Otherwise I wouldn't understand it."
Documents containing details of the Super League, first reported this month by British newspaper The Times, proposed a 20-club tournament with 15 permanent members.
They would include the Premier League's 'Big Six', as well as Real Madrid and Barcelona, with those clubs guaranteed billions of euros in revenue.
Tebas believes the documents show Infantino was involved in discussions. "In the documents that we have there is the mention of a code name 'W01' which clearly refers to Mr Infantino. That is his code name," said Tebas.
"So he should urgently clarify his position, his personal position, to explain exactly why he was at some of the meetings and encouraged the project at certain points in time."
- 'Not going to happen' -
Infantino has championed a new, expanded 24-team FIFA Club World Cup which he has said would be the "the best club competition in the world" as well as the most lucrative.
Tebas continued: "In the documents there are also certain dates being held back for the Club World Cup, which is so precious to Infantino. They have kept January free for the Club World Cup and even said who is going to be part of it."
"It is obvious that people involved like (Real Madrid president) Florentino Perez could not have those details if Infantino were against it," added Tebas.
Real Madrid declined to comment.
In October, Infantino said he was "not interested" in a European Super League but stopped short of confirming if he was for or against.
"If he comes out and says it's not true and can prove it, I will apologise," said Tebas. "In football everyone knows everyone and we find out everything that's going on. When I say something it is for a good reason. I know the truth."
As the head of the Spanish league, Tebas has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Super League project, which he says has been driven by Perez at Madrid, as well as the American owners of Liverpool, Manchester United and AC Milan.
Barcelona's outgoing president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said in October the club had also signed up.
The loss of income from the pandemic has accelerated talks, after Madrid and Barca each posted total debts of around one billion euros ($1.2 billion).
"Barcelona and Real's financial situations are not great but they're not so bad either," said Tebas. "The Super League is just an excuse they are looking for to set up this dream, the dream that Florentino Perez has had for years.
"But while I am in charge of the Spanish league it's not going to happen, that's my opinion," Tebas added. "The whole system will be against it and it won't just sit on its hands. It's going to fight."
© 2021 AFP