Ceferin says Agnelli ‘no longer exists’ to him as Super League fallout lingers
Aleksander Ceferin, the president of Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, has claimed that, as far as he is concerned, Andrea Agnelli, the chairman of top Italian club Juventus, “no longer exists” amid the continuing dispute over the Super League project.
Slovenian official Ceferin and Agnelli were previously close and worked together on the revamp of the Champions League as the Italian was head of the European Club Association.
However, they ultimately fell out over Agnelli’s involvement in the breakaway Super League, and Juventus are one of three clubs, the others being Spanish giants Real Madrid and Juventus still committed to the venture.
Uefa has already begun disciplinary proceedings against the trio, citing “a potential violation” of its legal framework.
Ceferin told So Foot: “In this case, I can put the protagonists into three categories. I put Andrea Agnelli in the first. That was personal.
“As far as I am concerned, this man no longer exists to me. I thought that we were friends, but he lied to my face right up until the last minute of the last day, assuring me there was nothing to worry about.
“The day before, he had already signed the documents for the launch of the Super League.”
Some 12 clubs from England, Italy and Spain signed up for the Super League, plans for which were unveiled in April only to collapse within days as the nine of the teams withdrew in the face of a considerable backlash.
Ceferin said: “In the second category, I put the leaders who I considered to be quite close to me and I am sad they didn't tell me in advance what was being planned.
“In the third and final category, I place those who I did not have privileged contacts with. I don't blame them, but they too will have to suffer the consequences of their actions.”
Meanwhile, Agnelli has denied that the Super League represented a coup, while claiming that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the need for reform.
Speaking in a press conference on Friday, the Juventus chief said: “For years I have tried to change European competitions from the inside, because the signs of crisis were evident even before the pandemic.
“The Super League is not a coup, but a desperate cry of alarm for a system that, knowingly or not, is heading towards insolvency.”
The rebel clubs continue to maintain the legality of the Super League and are hopeful of a positive ruling from the European Court of Justice on a referral from a commercial court in Madrid that seeks to establish whether Uefa and Fifa have the right to block the competition and impose sanctions on the clubs still involved in the venture.
Agnelli said: “The clubs always asked for communication with Uefa, which reacted by slamming the door shut and making grave, arrogant threats towards the three clubs which remain in the Super League, totally ignoring the verdict of the court in Madrid and not awaiting the verdict of the European court. We can assure that the legal basis for the project is solid.”
This sort of attitude from Uefa is not how you reform football. Our desire for dialogue with Uefa and Fifa is unchanged. Other sports modified their format over the years, such as the basketball EuroLeague, bringing great benefits to fans, clubs and players.
“Almost all stakeholders maintain football has to be reformed, yet those who do make proposals are demonised. Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona intend to continue with our proposals, also in solidarity with those who were too afraid to stick to them.”