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A future European Super League could have 80 clubs

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A future European Super League could include as many as 80 teams, Bernd Reichart, the chief executive of A22 Sports Management, a company formed to sponsor and assist in the creation of a breakaway soccer league, said on Thursday.

In a statement outlining the preliminary results of talks that A22 had with what it said was 50 European clubs and stakeholders of football, the company said change was necessary.

“The vast majority of them share the assessment that the very foundation of European football is under threat, and it is time for change,” A22 said.

“Feedback suggests a European football league that is open, based solely on sporting merit, multidivisional with 60 to 80 clubs and a minimum of 14 guaranteed European matches per club.”

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus were among 12 clubs to announce a breakaway Super League in April 2021.

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But the move collapsed within 48 hours after an outcry from fans, governments and players forced Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid to pull out.

That left only Real, Barcelona and Juventus as holdouts. The ESL took its case to a Spanish court which subsequently sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

“Our objective is to present a sustainable sporting project for European club competitions available to, at a minimum, all 27 EU Member States as soon as possible after receipt of the judgment,” Reichart said.

STRONG HEADWIND

Spain’s La Liga President Javier Tebas, a staunch opponent of the ESL, said the plan would only favour big clubs.

“The Super League is the wolf, who today disguises himself as a granny to try to fool European football, but his nose and his teeth are very big,” Tebas wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

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“Four divisions in Europe? Of course the first for them, as in the 2019 reform. Government of the clubs? Of course only the big ones.”

European soccer body UEFA, the biggest opponent to the ESL plan which it sees as threatening its own Champions League club competition, did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

The European Leagues — the association of Europe’s professional leagues — were equally critical, saying they had not even been consulted by A22.

“The Leagues fully support the current European club football model which is based on a open pyramidal structure with promotion and relegation from grassroots to professional at domestic level,” they said.

“This model is far from being broken and does not need to be fixed.”

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The European Club Association (ECA) said A22’s “rehashed idea” had already been “proposed, discussed and comprehensively rejected by all stakeholders in 2019.”

‘WALKING CORPSE’

The Football Supporters’ Association, which represents fans in England and Wales and is a co-founder of Europe’s equivalent fan body, said the ESL plan did not have any backing from the continent’s fans.

“The walking corpse that is the European Super League twitches again with all the self-awareness one associates with a zombie,” said FSA chief executive Kevin Miles in a statement.

“Their newest idea is to have an ‘open competition’ rather than the closed shop they originally proposed that led to huge fan protests. Of course an open competition for Europe’s top clubs already exists – it’s called the Champions League.”

A22 said there were 10 principles that emerged from the discussions, including improving competitiveness, financial sustainability and fan experience.

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At issue in the ongoing court case is whether European body UEFA and global governing body FIFA statutes allowing them to block rival events and bar clubs and players from taking part conform with EU competition rules.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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Governing Bodies

Breaking! CAF’s axe falls on Eto’o

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has imposed a fine of $200 thousand on Samuel Eto’o Fils, a former international footballer and President of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (‘’FECAFOOT’’).

  The fine is imposed on the FECAFOOT president for violating the principles of ethics, integrity and sportsmanship as provided in Article 2  paragraph 3 of the CAF Statutes.

He is found to have violated the said article by signing a Brand Ambassador contract with the company 1XBET in exchange for remuneration.

 He however escape sanction in a bigger allegation of match fixing and manipulation.

Eto’o faced charges of alleged manipulation of football matches and violating the principles of ethics and integrity.

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The Disciplinary Board ruled that there was insufficient proof to find him and Valentin Nkwain guilty of match manipulation.

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