- Either you are in or you are out, Fifa president says
• Ban would include Euros and national leagues too
Football’s biggest names would be banned from the World Cup if they played in a breakaway European Super League, the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, said on Wednesday.
Infantino said the governing body would punish players at clubs such as Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich if they left football’s organised structure to form a privately owned league.
“Either you are in or you are out,” Infantino said, listing the World Cup, European Championship and national leagues as competitions that players from breakaway teams could be excluded from. “This includes everything.”
Talk of a long-threatened super league was revived on Friday when the German magazine Der Spiegel published confidential documents and emails from clubs and football governing bodies in its “Football Leaks” series.
Real Madrid were alleged to be working with consultants on a 16-team Super League to kick off in 2021 effectively replacing the Champions League and outside the control of Uefa.
The plan called for 11 clubs from Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France to get ownership stakes and risk-free Super League membership for 20 years, with five more clubs from those countries invited to play.
The breakaway from football’s historical hierarchy Fifa, the six continental bodies and 211 national federations would allow officials to ban players from major competitions, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“The idea is if you break away, you break away – you don’t keep one foot in and one foot out,” Fifa’s legal director, Alasdair Bell, said. “That would be the general approach we would follow, but of course lawyers can debate this for a long time.”
Infantino has clashed this year with European football officials and club leaders over Fifa’s proposed Club World Cup project. He said his plan, potentially featuring at least 12 European clubs in a 24-team lineup and worth a promised $3bn every four years, was a good alternative to a private closed league. “The Club World Cup is the answer to any attempt to even think about any sort of breakaway leagues,” he said.
Infantino insisted while the plan would be lucrative for clubs taking part, it also kept money in the football family. Fifa would use 25% of revenue to share globally.
“If the price to pay is to give proper revenues to a club participating in a Club World Cup but this allows us to … give $1m to Haiti who has nothing, or to Mongolia who has three time zones but only two football pitches, well then we should be I think doing that,” he said.
A Fifa task force will assess a revamp of competitions, including a new event for all national teams played every two years. Infantino said he expects a decision in March when he chairs a Fifa Council meeting in Miami.
He also believes the latest breakaway threat will calm. “People are still quite reasonable,” Infantino said. “I trust certainly the club owners and presidents to be able to have a discussion.”
Infantino also said the 2022 World Cup must be played in 28 days even if it is expanded to 48 teams and acknowledged that would make it even harder to push through his preferred vision of a bigger tournament.
Fifa will decide in March whether to add 16 teams in 2022 but Infantino said the chances of an expansion were “certainly small” because of the scheduling issues and the fact that host Qatar would need help from neighbouring countries to stage games.
A 48-team World Cup would entail 80 games, meaning up to six matches would have to be played on some days during the group stages to fit the 28-day window. Some knockout matches would also have to be played simultaneously.
Fifa has had to shorten the tournament by four days compared with this year’s World Cup in Russia because it will be played in November and December in order to avoid desert heat. European leagues insist they cannot compromise again by giving Fifa more days from their November schedule. “We cannot make [the tournament] longer,” Infantino said.