UEFA today warned clubs could be thrown out of their domestic leagues if they choose to form a rival tournament.
A statement issued by European football’s governing body has responded to reports that the ‘G14’ group of clubs – which includes Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool – have considered breaking away to form a rival tournament to the Champions League, although those reports have been denied.
In a strongly-worded statement, UEFA also defended their position on ensuring players are released to play for their national teams.
In a clear reference to the G14 – although the organisation is not referred to by name – the statement reads: “Football is about fairness, opportunity, excitement and variety. It is not (sic) closed shop where only the richest and most powerful are invited to the table.
“UEFA will not tolerate a structure or system where smaller clubs, smaller nations and all their supporters never have the chance to follow their dream.
“This is not what UEFA are about, this is not what Europe is about, this is not what football is about.”
Referring to the ongoing player release controversy, the statement continues: “A self-appointed group of clubs has challenged this rule.
“They are not interested in protecting competition but only interested in protecting themselves and their economic interests and in dictating their conditions on others.
“This group of clubs does not care if there is less competition between nations and less competition between clubs.
“But UEFA does care and that is why we will defend the rule and are working together with FIFA to do so.”
The statement concludes: “UEFA will not stand in the way of those who want to leave the family (which also means the domestic competitions) and who do not share our sporting values.”
That statement in effect warns the G14 that they may not be able to play in competitions like the Premiership if they do leave the UEFA ‘family’.
“But you can not ‘pick and choose’,” the statement continues. “We will defend our beliefs and we will defend our rules. Our structures may evolve but our core beliefs are set in stone. All national associations stand together with UEFA on this fundamental issue.”
The G14 represent 18 clubs from seven of Europe’s more powerful football nations.