European Super League latest: Fifpro warns Fifa over its threat to ban players from breakaway clubs

Matt Slater
Football's stars could soon face a choice between club and country: Getty Images

Global footballers' union FIFPro has warned Fifa president Gianni Infantino it will resist any attempt to ban players from international football if they take part in a breakaway European Super League.

The threat of such a move is back on the agenda after Der Spiegel published a story that claimed several of Europe's biggest clubs, unhappy at having to share European broadcast revenues with the wider football family, have been secretly plotting to form a new competition.

Based on documents and emails obtained from the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks, the German magazine claimed 11 clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, could sign up to the US-style, closed league as early as this month, with five more big names invited to make it a 16-team competition.

Asked by reporters last week what this would mean for those players' international ambitions, Infantino said "either you are in or you are out", implying they would no longer be eligible to compete for their national sides.

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The prospect of a breakaway league is not the only story to be generated by the Football Leaks' trove of information, with Der Spiegel and other European outlets also reporting that clubs such as City and PSG have attempted to circumvent European football's Financial Fair Play rules by inflating sponsorship deals and hiding costs.

All of these issues will be discussed at a meeting of Uefa's Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC) in Nyon on Wednesday.

Chaired by Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, the PFSC is comprised of four representatives each from Uefa, the European Club Association, European Leagues and FIFPro.

In a nuanced statement ahead of that meeting, FIFPro said it has "taken note" of the Football Leaks allegations and believes "they raise serious questions about the governance and regulation of world football".

It said football executives must be "obliged to comply with regulations" in the same way players are on the pitch and there "cannot be fair competition on the pitch without fair competition off the pitch".

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However, the union believes "innovation" in terms of new competition formats should also be encouraged to help grow the game, providing "top clubs and competitions recognise they have a responsibility towards the entire industry".

Pointing out that the competitive balance within domestic leagues is already "vanishing" as the richest clubs get richer, FIFPro said "innovation and sustainability are not mutually exclusive".

But on Fifa's threat to ban players who might take part in a breakaway competition at some point, FIFPro left no room for interpretation.

"FIFPro supports a united football industry and the benefits of connected competitions," it said.

"We will however defend the ability of players to represent their country and their right to offer their services to any club. We are strongly opposed to the prospect of these freedoms being limited as a consequence of a fight between competition organisers."

The statement concluded by calling for a wide and transparent debate about football's future, with administrators, clubs, fans, leagues and players all represented.

In regards to the allegations about its finances, City have issued a blanket statement that describes the Football Leaks-related stories as a "clear and organised" attempt to harm its reputation with "hacked or stolen" documents.

But Uefa has said it might reopen its earlier FFP investigations into City and PSG if the new information suggests the clubs were not entirely honest with the governing body when they declared financial information in the past.