The impeccably groomed world of football administration was host to an intemperate spat on Tuesday, after Uefa accused the company behind the European Super League of “disrespect” and having fewer supporters in 2022 than the UK has had prime ministers.
In an unmistakably forthright communication, European football’s governing body hit back as its meeting with A22, the business formed to deliver the Super League, ended in a flurry of critical statements.
The meeting had been requested by A22, which hopes to revive the Super League idea and is pursuing a more up-front approach than the skulduggery that ended in failure last spring. A22’s new CEO, Bernd Reichart, expected to meet Uefa’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, to discuss the topic but instead was received by at least a dozen football luminaries, including representatives from the Premier League, La Liga and PSG’s president, Nasser al-Khelaifi.
In an initial statement, Uefa said it and its “football stakeholders” had used the meeting to restate their commitment “to the foundations of European football, which are based on openness, solidarity and meritocracy … rather than on privilege and self-entitlement”.
A22 argued that its “takeaway” from the meeting was that “the status quo is satisfactory to Uefa”, noting it had met a “large group of … executives”. It went on to ask that any “ongoing dialogue” with clubs about the future of European club competition “must be carried out in an environment free from threats and other restraints”.
Uefa then took the unusual step of replying to A22’s statement. It set off as it meant to continue, saying: “The ‘other executives’ [A22] refer to were not faceless bureaucrats but senior stakeholders from across European football, players, clubs, leagues and fans; people who live and breathe the game every day. To fail to recognise that is disrespectful.”
The rebuttal continued: “If there is a ‘takeaway’ from today, it should be that the whole of European football opposes their greedy plan, as was clearly communicated in our media release. European football has constantly demonstrated its openness to change but it must be for the benefit of the whole game not just a few clubs.
“A22 wanted dialogue so we gave them 2.5 hours of time from all of the game’s stakeholders and each one rejected their approach. As the Football Supporters’ Association said, the UK has had as many prime ministers in the last two months as they have supporters of their plans.”
When you’re being compared to the UK government, it could be argued that things really have come to a pass.