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Player power

UEFA criticised for threat of sanction against footballers set to take part in The Super League

Published:Tuesday | April 20, 2021 | 12:15 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Tottenham’s Harry Kane (left) is challenged by Manchester United’s Harry Maguire during their English Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England on Sunday, April 11. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says players at the 12
Tottenham’s Harry Kane (left) is challenged by Manchester United’s Harry Maguire during their English Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England on Sunday, April 11. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says players at the 12 clubs setting up their own Super League could be banned from this year’s European Championship and next year’s World Cup.
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Jamaica Football Federation Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid disagrees with UEFA’s threat that footballers from teams set to participate in the proposed Super League may be banned from representing their countries. The move by 12 of...

Jamaica Football Federation Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid disagrees with UEFA’s threat that footballers from teams set to participate in the proposed Super League may be banned from representing their countries.

The move by 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs to establish a new midweek competition, with teams continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, has caused controversy, with resentment of the new proposal coming from various European football stakeholders including UEFA its and member associations.

But while Speid disapproves of FIFA and UEFA’s threat, he says that football governing bodies such as those ultimately have the right to decide who is eligible to play in their competitions.

“The thing with FIFA and other football organisations is that they do have the right to decide who plays in their competitions,” he said. “So nobody can stop them from saying who can or cannot play in their competition.

“Players care about playing in the World Cup and the Champions League. So imagine no domestic league, no Champions League, no World Cup for a top player.”

International Federation of Professional Footballers FIFPro has defended the potentially affected players who might choose to participate and be restricted from international tournaments, saying that UEFA would be violating their rights.

SERIOUS TROUBLE

“FIFPro is saying that this is not a nice thing but if they go to a normal court, FIFA can ban them,” Speid said. “If you try to carry UEFA to a normal court, they can find themselves in serious trouble. It has a lot of issues that will not be solved now.”

Speid said the situation is unhealthy for all parties but says that some players’ contracts may give them the option to decide on their participation.

And though he thinks the Super League will be short on sporting merit, he does not considered the owners to be greedy.

“This new Super League, the sporting Merit will be absent,” he said. “You can’t just have teams playing every year, nobody going up and nobody coming down.

“They have proposed for five teams to come up, while some teams are there all the time. That is rubbish.

“If someone has their private organisation and somebody tells them they can make a lot of money and they are not breaking any laws, then why not go for it. So I will not say the clubs are too greedy.”

Speid is however concerned about the financial impact of the tournament.

“But the truth is if they allow it to happen, the €3.5 billion (J$636 billion) will change football,” he said. “It will kill other clubs, as nobody will want to play for any other club except those 20 clubs and the sport won’t be the same. So it is a messy situation.”

Athlete Manager Tanya Lee, like FIFPro, believes any move by UEFA to ban the players from international tournaments, will be a violation of their rights.

“The position that players who participate will not play for their national teams is an infringement on those players’ rights,” she said.

“I think all parties, UEFA, FIFA and the breakaway clubs are each taking their self-interests into consideration.

“The punitive knee-jerk reaction taken by some of these football bodies to maintain their balance of power is baseless and desperate. This is a financial battle and I am keen to see how it unfolds.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com