Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have come together to issue a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to modernising football amid the botched European Super League plans.
The football world was shocked after 12 founding members – including the Premier League’s Big Six – signed up for the breakaway Super League, which threatened the future of UEFA’s elite competitions, the Champions League and Europa League.
In a chaotic 48 hours amid mass protests from across Europe from fans, media and even politicians, the plans came to a shuddering halt with teams withdrawing one by one. However, Barca, Madrid and Juventus have still failed to renounce their involvement.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez spearheaded the European Super League plans
Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli was also one of the masterminds behind the Super League
And as the European giants continue to hold firm over their stance, UEFA have decided to launch disciplinary action against the rebel trio, with some reports suggesting they face expulsion from their competitions such as the Champions League for a period of two years.
And now the trio have decided to launch a joint statement attacking UEFA’s ‘incomprehensible’ disciplinary proceedings before insisting they ‘remain committed to modernising football’.
Wednesday’s statement read: ‘FC Barcelona, Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF wish to express their absolute rejection of the insistent coercion that UEFA has been maintaining towards three of the most relevant institutions in the history of football.
‘This alarming attitude constitutes a flagrant breach of the decision of the courts of justice, which have already made a clear statement warning UEFA to refrain from taking any action that could penalise the founding clubs of the Super League while the legal proceedings are ongoing.
‘Therefore, the opening of disciplinary proceedings by UEFA is incomprehensible and is a direct attack against the rule of law that we, the citizens of the European Union, have democratically built up, while constituting a lack of respect toward the authority of the courts of justice themselves.
Barcelona (pictured – new president Joan Laporta), have failed to renounce their involvement in the plans along with Madrid and Juventus
‘From the beginning, the Super League has been promoted with the aim of improving the situation of European football, through permanent dialogue with UEFA and with the objective to increase the interest in the sport and to offer fans the best possible show.
‘This objective has to be achieved in a framework of sustainability and solidarity, especially in a precarious economic situation such as the one many clubs in Europe are currently experiencing.
‘Instead of exploring ways of modernizing football through open dialogue, UEFA expects us to withdraw the ongoing court proceedings that question their monopoly over European football.
‘Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, all of them more than a century old, will not accept any form of coercion or intolerable pressure, while they remain strong in their willingness to debate, respectfully and through dialogue, the urgent solutions that football currently needs.
‘Either we reform football or we will have to watch its inevitable downfall.’
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been on a war path with the rebel European clubs
The strongly-worded statement came just a day after UEFA announced Barca, Madrid and Juve could face sanctions for their involvement in the much-maligned plans.
A UEFA statement read on Tuesday: ‘Following an investigation conducted by UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspectors in connection with the so-called “Super League” project, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Juventus FC for a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework.’
The European governing body had opened a disciplinary investigation into the three clubs two weeks ago.
The nine other clubs – including Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, as well as AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid – committed to the existing national and international competitions, with the threat of heavy fines and expulsion were they to renew their interest in the breakaway project.
Fan protests are continuing to take place after the plans for the breakaway tournament
They agreed to make a combined €15million (just over £13m) goodwill contribution to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe.
They also agreed to have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season, with the money to be redistributed.
But Real, Barcelona and Juventus not only failed to follow their lead, but issued a joint statement standing by the prospective competition and its legal standing.
UEFA’s move raises the prospect of the three clubs being sanctioned, with some reports suggesting they face expulsion from UEFA competitions such as the Champions League for a period of two years.