UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has revealed there is a ‘small possibility’ that next week’s Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Chelsea may not go ahead as punishment for their role in the European Super League.
Real and Chelsea were both part of the ‘Dirty Dozen’, the 12 European giants who announced their intention to form a breakaway competition on Sunday night.
However, strong protests from fans, players, managers and pundits led to the idea collapsing and its founder, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, admitted the project was in tatters on Wednesday after all six Premier League clubs dropped out.
Attention has now turned to what punishment the 12 clubs, which included all of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, three clubs from Spain and three from Italy, would face for their role in the scheme.
Three of the 12 – Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid – are still in the Champions League while Arsenal and Manchester United are competing in the Europa League semi-finals.
One option that has been put forward is those clubs still involved in UEFA’s flagship club competitions could be disqualified, especially as Real Madrid have not formally withdrawn from the Super League.
Ceferin, who called the breakaway group ‘snakes’, ‘arrogant’ and ‘greedy’ over the past few days, has admitted there is a chance the semi-finals will not go ahead but warned broadcasting deals make it unlikely.
‘The key is that this season has already started, so broadcasters would come at us for damages if we don’t play the semi-finals,’ he said on Slovenian TV channel 24UR.
‘So, there’s a relatively small possibility that this match isn’t played next week. But, things could be a little different in the future.’
When asked about Real Madrid president Florentino Perez’s outburst on Wednesday night, in which he said he would never want a UEFA president like Ceferin, the Slovenian replied: ‘Well, that’s more incentive for me to stay.
‘He wants a president who obeys whatever he says, who listens to him and who does what he thinks. I do what I think is good for European and world football.’
Perez has refused to back down in his defence of the disastrous Super League project and insists anyone who thinks the project is dead is ‘completely wrong’.
In an interview with El Larguero’s Manu Carreno, Perez, who was also the president of the Super League, claimed a smear campaign was created to oppose the plans after fierce backlash across Europe.
‘I am a bit sad, disappointed,’ he started. ‘We have been working three years on this project, on fighting the current financial situation in Spanish football. It is easy to understand – you cannot touch LaLiga, so you look for more money midweek.
‘The leagues are sacred. What we can change is the midweek games. The Champions League is obsolete – it’s only interesting from the quarter-finals onwards.
‘Among the 12 teams we lost €650million last season. This season two or three more times. This format clearly does not work.’
Perez also bizarrely claimed that Chelsea fans were ‘taken’ to Stamford Bridge to protest the Super League on Tuesday night, which helped spark a chain reaction in the English clubs dropping out.
He said: ‘Who brought those Chelsea fans to protest? There were only 40 Chelsea fans, and I could tell who brought them… just like here someone gave Cadiz jerseys (against Super League).’