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Real Madrid and Barcelona’s hopes of a so-called European Super League are dealt fresh blow

LONDON (AP) — A so-called European Super League was dealt a fresh blow on Saturday when Italian giant Juventus decided to rejoin the body of clubs opposing the controversial breakaway competition.

Juventus had been with Real Madrid and Barcelona in pushing for a new competition that would replace the Champions League. But it will rejoin the European Club Association of 600 teams, which has fought strongly against attempts to create a Super League.

“They are back. It is great,” ECA chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “The club has an amazing history. We are proud they are back to their family. I also call the others to be back.”

Madrid and Barcelona are now the only two clubs trying to form a proposed Super League, which has already had one failed launch after angry fan protests in 2021.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has been determined to push ahead with plans to create a breakaway, despite the majority of Europe’s leading clubs rejecting the idea. His position appeared to be strengthened in December when the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that soccer’s governing bodies UEFA and FIFA acted contrary to EU competition law by blocking attempts for a breakaway league.

Super League organizers quickly revealed plans for the new competition, which Perez described as a “great opportunity to improve European club football.”

But, crucially, he did not have the backing of many of the leading clubs, which faced a furious backlash from fans when attempting to form a breakaway in 2021.

Back then a group of 12 of Europe’s most storied clubs announced plans to create a new Super League. Proposals for the 20-team elite tournament would have seen 15 top sides protected from relegation.

Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan were part of the original breakaway group.

Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus were eventually left as the only clubs carrying on the fight before Italy’s record 36-time champion, Juventus, withdrew last year.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also president of Paris Saint-Germain, spoke after a meeting of the ECA Executive Committee in London ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final between Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

He said he wanted Madrid and Barcelona to follow Juventus’ lead, saying a Super League of two teams “doesn’t make sense.”

“They can play two teams, home and away for 20 matches?”, he said. “It is not for anyone’s interest. They are going against their (own) interests today.”

Madrid is going for a record-extending 15th European Cup when it faces Dortmund at Wembley Stadium.

“I heard yesterday they (Madrid) talked about the love story between Madrid and the Champions League. On the other hand they want to destroy the Champions League. You love or you hate. You want to destroy the thing you hate?” Al-Khelaifi said.

Al-Khelaifi said he would welcome discussion with Madrid and Barcelona about rejoining the ECA.

“It’s really important for us and for them,” he said.


James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson


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