ESL: Ceferin warns of sanctions, hails fans, criticizes ‘liars’
By Andrew Warshaw
April 26 – UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is keeping pressure on the 12 clubs who have sought to create the European Super League as England supporters maintained their opposition to the failed project.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur supporters – half of the so-called Dirty Dozen ripped apart their respective owners over the weekend as the backlash showed no sign of recoil.
In doing so, Ceferin made it clear that the escaped Renegades would not be allowed out without a scot.
âEveryone has to take responsibility for the consequences of what they did and we cannot pretend that nothing happened,â he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
âYou can’t do something like that and just say, ‘I was punished because everyone hates me.’ They don’t have any problems because of anyone other than themselves. What they have done is not correct and we will see in the next few days what we need to do.
Ceferin has hinted that the six non-England teams will not face the toughest penalties. Atletico Madrid and the two Milan clubs withdrew later than their English counterparts while Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona stepped on their heels.
âFor me, it’s a clear difference between the English clubs and the other six. They pulled out first, they admitted they made a mistake. You have to have greatness to say: “I was wrong”.
“For me there are three groups of those 12 – the English Six, which came out first, then the other three. [Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter] after them and then those who feel the Earth is flat and they think the Super League still exists [Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus]. And there is a big difference between these. But everyone will be held responsible. In what way, we will see.
âI don’t mean to talk about the disciplinary process, but it should be clear that everyone has to be held accountable in a different way. Is it disciplinary? Is this the decision of the executive committee? We will see. It is too early to tell.
Ceferin praised the unprecedented outpouring of fan power which was instrumental in fueling the ESL.
âListen, honestly I was completely in awe of the reaction from the fans, the whole football community and not just the football community, but I would say society. I’ve never seen it, âhe said.
âUEFA did its part, the clubs that were with us did their part. And of course the British government. But by far, most of it was made by the fans.
As the fallout continues, UEFA seems likely to revisit its new Champions League format, but there is no doubt that Ceferin feels betrayed, especially by Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, one of the main architects of the Super League who insisted for months on the European. The Club Association, which he led until his resignation last week, was working with UEFA, not against it.
Ceferin is the godfather of Agnelli’s daughter but has publicly described him as a liar and has no regrets.
He said he got wind of Agnelli’s alleged duplicity as he drove from his home in Slovenia to UEFA headquarters in Nyon, preparing to officially announce the changes to the Champions League which he said had the support of the biggest clubs.
âIt was very stressful. I felt like I had been put in a washing machine. On Saturday, I went to Switzerland from my home country, an eight-hour drive away. I had everything ready to talk about reforms and everything in my speech.
“They were up to stuff they didn’t tell me, guy [Agnelli] lied to me saying: “It’s not true, it’s not true …”
Ceferin said widespread outrage over ESL has proven to be an important point.
âThis joint effort has shown that it’s not all for sale, that you can’t come up with billions and say, ‘I don’t care about the tradition, the history of the things you love, because I have enough money, I’ll buy it all. âCertainly not! It does not pass.
Ceferin pledged to re-engage with the reformed ECA, now led by Nasser Al-Khelaifi of Paris Saint-Germain, but reiterated that he would no longer tolerate any separatist nonsense from Real Madrid and Barcelona who still believe the project has legs.
“It is clear that the clubs will have to decide if they are in the Super League or if they are a European club,” Ceferin said in a separate interview with The Associated Press.
âIf they say we’re a Super League, then they don’t play in the Champions League, of course.â
Although the concept fell apart within 48 hours, Ceferin couldn’t cover up the injury caused by ESL’s announcement that threatened to undermine UEFA’s own landmark statement on Champions League reforms.
“The worst day was Saturday, because then I realized it was pure betrayal, that some people have been lying to us for years.”
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