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PSG president Al-Khelaifi takes Uefa’s side in war over European Super League

rfi.fr– Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi on Tuesday backed European football’s governing body Uefa in its battle with the owners of 12 teams attempting to establish a European Super League (ESL).

“There is a clear need to evolve Uefa’s existing competition model,” said Al-Khelaifi after his reelection to Uefa’s executive committee as a representative of the European Club Association.

“European soccer is at a pivotal moment in which all stakeholders must work together, in good faith, to protect the sport we all love.”

On Sunday, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United from the English Premier League as well as six clubs from Italy and Spain announced they wanted to start a 20-team competition from the autumn.

The dozen, as founding members, would play in the competition every year and after the arrival of three other outfits in a second wave, five other sides would join.

They will be divided into two groups of 10. The top three from each pool would progress to the quarters – along with two teams emerging from play-offs. A trophy would be given after a one-off final following the knockout stages.

Backing

“We believe that any proposal without the support of Uefa – an organisation that has been striving to advance the interests of European soccer for almost 70 years – does not solve the problems currently facing the soccer community, but is instead driven by self-interest,” Al-Khelaifi added.

His comments came after English Premier League executives said they would fight to prevent the creation of the ESL.

Their battle cry followed a meeting on Tuesday of the 14 clubs snubbed by the ESL as well as the Football Association, the English game’s ruling body.

“The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent the ESL from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders involved to account under its rules,” said a statement.

“The Premier League will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, the government and Uefa … to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.”

On Monday, Uefa outlined its reform of the Champions League.

Format

From 2024, the tournament will be expanded from 32 to 36 teams.

Instead of the current eight groups of four teams in which the top two teams qualify for the last-16, there will be a single league.

A draw will take place and each team will play 10 games home and away, with the top eight automatically qualifying for the last-16 .

Those sides finishing between ninth and 24th will compete in two-legged play-offs to decide who else makes the knockout stages. Those ties will be over two legs right up until a one-off final at a neutral venue.

“This evolved format will still keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the Uefa Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch,” said Uefa boss Aleksandr Ceferin.

“And it will enable long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football, not just a tiny, self-selected cartel.”

Rethink

The changes followed a two-year review of the competition and were part of a Uefa plan to torpedo the threat of a breakaway.

Al-Khelaifi’s PSG take on Manchester City on 28 April in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final – provided City are not expelled from the competition as Uefa has threatened over their involvement with the ESL.

“Paris Saint-Germain has the firm belief that soccer is a sport for all, added Al-Khelaifi.

“I have been consistent on this point since the very beginning. We must remember that as a soccer club, we are a family and a community, whose heart is our supporters.”

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