UEFA gathers European team to oppose Super League at meeting

GENEVA (AP) — Organizers of European soccer’s Super League project got the meeting they asked for Tuesday with UEFA’s president. They found many more opponents also waiting there to criticize them.

The meeting was held amid secrecy at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, four months after the parties were on opposite sides of a European Court of Justice hearing in an ongoing case that resulted from a group of storied clubs' failed launch of their own breakaway competition in April 2021.

Super League promoter A22 Sports Management wanted a first formal meeting with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin after last month appointing its own chief executive.

On Tuesday, instead of facing just Ceferin, the three-man A22 delegation led by CEO Bernd Reichart was met with a room full of European soccer leaders ready to denounce the Super League.

Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain were among the clubs teaming with leagues, player union leaders and fan representatives to help send UEFA’s message.

UEFA said in a statement they had “stressed together that the opposition to the self-proclaimed super league remains overwhelming today as it has been since April 2021.”

In its own statement, A22 acknowledged it had met a tough crowd.

“This is an important signal to clubs and fans across Europe that we need discussion and that it is welcome, even when it is difficult,” the Madrid-based company said.

The Super League has been mostly closely identified with three clubs — Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus — who are the only ones among 12 founder members yet to disown it.

UEFA noted “with surprise, the claims of A22 Sports CEO that this company is not representing any clubs in any capacity, including the three clubs who continue to openly support the project.”

A revamped Super League plan is expected to have more clubs from a broader base of countries playing in multiple divisions, with promotion and relegation to dispel the image of being a closed breakaway that would threaten domestic leagues.

“A22 also reiterated that it is fully committed to open competitions based on sporting merit and the fundamental role played by national leagues — which would be complementary to a new format,” the company said.

A22 did not identify any of the “numerous clubs who wish to take part in this dialogue.”

The European court in Luxembourg has set a Dec. 15 target to give a non-binding opinion on the challenge by A22 and the clubs to what they claim is UEFA monopoly control of international competitions.

A final ruling is expected in about six months

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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press