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Barcelona maintains support of Super League despite backlash


Barcelona Barcelona despite backlash of League maintains Super support

Fri, 23 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0100

After 10 of the 12 clubs involved in the creation of the breakaway competition quickly dropped out under an escalating backlash, Barcelona president Joan Laporta 

FILE – In this Sunday, March 7, 2021 file photo, Joan Laporta celebrates his victory after elections at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona president Joan Laporta maintained his support for the Super League on Thursday April 22, 2021, despite the quick exit of 10 of the 12 founding clubs in the breakaway competition.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The ill-fated Super League has enraged fans and troubled authorities while making allies of a pair of soccer’s fiercest nemeses.

After 10 of the 12 clubs involved in the creation of the breakaway competition quickly dropped out under an escalating backlash, Barcelona president Joan Laporta emerged on Thursday as the sole supporter of the plan hatched by Real Madrid counterpart Florentino Pérez.

“It is absolutely necessary,” Laporta said on Catalan public television in his first public comments on the project. “The biggest clubs create the most financial resources and we must have our say in deciding how the earnings are shared.”

Even so, his own club issued a statement hours after he spoke that was aimed at calming tensions and promised to listen to the plan’s critics.

The six English clubs involved in the competition pulled out Tuesday amid escalating complaints from their supporters and warnings from the British government. A day later, Spanish club Atlético Madrid and the three Italian teams in the project — Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan — also opted out.

Despite being left nearly alone, Pérez — the competition’s supposed first chairman — said late Wednesday that the idea was not dead, but rather on standby.

Both Juventus and AC Milan also left open the possibility of joining a Super League at a later date.

Laporta, who previously served as Barcelona president from 2003-10, was re-elected to the post last month. While campaigning, Laporta said he was not in favor of the Super League, but his position changed after taking charge of the troubled club that faces more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in debt.

The club’s finances have been hard hit by the pandemic, which has compounded problems in a budget that was already loaded by the highest payroll in soccer last season. Laporta’s financial challenges include trying to convince Lionel Messi to sign a new contract when his expires this year.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said Barcelona was the club that “disappointed me the least.”

“Laporta was elected very recently and I spoke to him two or three times. He was under great pressure due to the financial situation he inherited,” Ceferin said. “This happens when you overpay some players and don’t get a result.”

The chances to boost revenue by cutting UEFA out of the equation and replacing the Champions League with the new tournament of 20 teams appeared to be irresistible to Barcelona.

“There have been pressures placed on some clubs, but the proposal is still standing,” Laporta said. “We have very important investments, our salaries are very high, and those must be taken into consideration, along with sporting merits.”

Barcelona’s participation was conditioned by Laporta’s pledge to let the club’s members vote on the proposal.

“We are keeping a prudent stance,” Laporta said. “It is a necessity, but our club members will have the final word.”

Laporta appeared open to tweaking the most controversial part of the project — locking in the 15 founding clubs and leaving only five berths open for other teams to join each season.

“It has to be an attractive competition, based on merit won on the field,” Laporta said. “We defend our national leagues and an open dialogue with UEFA.”

In its statement, Barcelona defended its decision to back the new scheme because, according to the Catalan club, not jumping on board the project “would have been a historic error.”

But the club added that while standing by the Super League, the backlash against it meant “it is undeniable that FC Barcelona understands that a much deeper analysis must be undertaken.

“This deeper analysis requires time and the necessary calm to prevent any hasty action being taken,” the club said.

Time appears to be one thing Barcelona and Madrid have with forces lining up against them.

While Laporta spoke in Barcelona, the other Spanish league clubs not involved in the Super League project met via videoconference with league president Javier Tebas to form a common front against the new competition. Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético were not invited to the meeting.

“I think that Barcelona has bigger problems than taking on the rest of the clubs in Spain and Europe to defend a Super League that is already dead,” Tebas said.

But Tebas saved his strongest criticism for Real Madrid’s president, credited as the mastermind of the project.

“If they say that the Super League will save soccer, they are lying or they are mistaken,” Tebas said. “Florentino Pérez is lying. It can’t help soccer because it would destroy the national leagues.”

Players on the Spanish clubs not in the project wore T-shirts before league matches on Wednesday criticizing it. Otherwise, protests against the Super League have been subdued in Spain compared to England.

Barcelona played its first match since the Super League announcement on Thursday against Getafe, winning 5-2 with a pair of goals by Messi. Getafe players entered the field wearing T-shirts condemning the Super League. Other teams had already done the same in league matches this week.

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FILE – In this Sunday, March 7, 2021 file photo, Joan Laporta celebrates his victory after elections at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona president Joan Laporta maintained his support for the Super League on Thursday April 22, 2021, despite the quick exit of 10 of the 12 founding clubs in the breakaway competition.

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Barcelona

Fri, 23 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0100

Barcelona have justified signing up to the European Super League by saying it was a 'historic opportunity' to guarantee financial sustainability

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Last modified on Thu 22 Apr 2021 19.20 EDT

Barcelona have justified signing up to the European Super League by saying it was a “historic opportunity” to guarantee football’s financial sustainability, adding that they remain committed to the project even as other clubs jump ship.

The Catalan club, who beat Getafe 5-2 on Thursday evening to move back into third place in La Liga, said in a statement on Thursday that the project required further analysis and could be set up in a different format but appeared to rule out joining Atlético Madrid and the six English clubs in leaving.

“Given the public reaction that the aforementioned project has generated … there is no question FC Barcelona appreciates a much more in-depth analysis is required into the reasons that have caused this reaction,” the statement said. “Such in-depth analysis needs time and the necessary composure to avoid taking any rash action.”

Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur abandoned the project on Tuesday while Atlético joined them on Wednesday. Juventus, Inter Milan and Milan also accepted the plan had failed.

Atlético Madrid stayed in control of La Liga’s title race by beating struggling Huesca 2-0 at home on Thursday with goals in each half by Ángel Correa and Yannick Carrasco.

Correa scored for the third time in two games to give Atletico the lead shortly before halftime, before Marcos Llorente pounced on a loose ball and squared for Carrasco to knock it into the empty net 10 minutes from time.

Bordeaux have been placed in administration after its owners, investment management firm King Street, said they no longer wished to support the club financially, the Ligue 1 side said on Thursday.

The former French champions have been struggling financially due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the premature end to the 2019-20 season also resulted in a loss of income when the league season was cancelled.

Their problems were compounded when Spanish media rights agency Mediapro, which had won Ligue 1 TV rights for a record €780m euros per season over the 2020-2024 period, went bankrupt and missed payments last year.

In Serie A, Napoli won a 5-2 thriller against top-four rivals Lazio on Thursday to stay within touching distance of the Champions League places.

Lorenzo Insigne’s penalty and a Matteo Politano strike gave the hosts a two-goal lead at the break, before Insigne netted his second and Dries Mertens struck to put the result beyond doubt.

Mertens’s superb finish, a powerful shot into the top corner from the edge of the box, made him Napoli’s joint-top scorer of all time in Serie A with 102 league goals, alongside Antonio Vojak.

Atalanta missed the chance to go second as Roma fought back to earn a 1-1 draw against the 10-man visitors at the Stadio Olimpico. 

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side went in front through Ruslan Malinovskyi in the first half but the match swung in the hosts’ favour when Robin Gosens was shown a second yellow card with 20 minutes remaining, and former Atalanta player Bryan Cristante drew Roma level with a thunderous long-range strike in the 75th minute. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed a one-year contract extension at Milan that will keep him beyond his 40th birthday.

“Milan is the club for which Zlatan has played the most in Italy. After scoring 84 goals in 130 appearances with the Rossoneri, the Swedish striker will continue to be wearing the red and black jersey next season,” the club said in a statement. Reuters

The Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez, has refused to accept the project is dead, however, while the Barcelona chief, Joan Laporta, said earlier on Thursday the Super League was a necessity but was open to dialogue with the European governing body Uefa.

Barcelona are in a deep financial crisis despite being the most valuable club in the world and the one with the biggest income. Their statement added that structural reforms were needed “to guarantee the financial sustainability and feasibility of world football”, explaining they agreed to join the Super League “as a matter of immediate urgency”.

It also described the breakaway project, which has been fiercely criticised by supporters and political leaders across Europe, as “a competition designed to improve the quality and attractiveness of the product offered to the football fans”.

Barcelona said: “The decision was made in the conviction that it would have been a historical error to turn down the opportunity to be part of this project as one of its founding members. As one of the world’s top sports club, our intention shall always be to be at the forefront, this being an indispensable part of the club’s identity and its sporting, social and institutional spirit.”

On Thursday, Messi scored twice as Barça crushed Getafe 5-2 on Thursday to stay in the hunt for the La Liga title. Getafe gave Ronald Koeman’s side a guard of honour for their recent Copa del Rey triumph but the visitors also wore T-shirts saying “Earn It”, criticising Barcelona’s decision to sign up to the European Super League.

Messi gave Barça an early lead with the help of a pin-point pass from Sergio Busquets but Getafe pulled level with an own goal by Clement Lenglet. The visitors then conceded a calamitous own goal when Sofian Chakla’s backpass deceived keeper David Soria and trickled over the line.

Messi extended Barça’s lead before halftime, hitting the post then following up to net from a tight angle and to move on to 25 La Liga goals for the 12th season in a row. But the Catalans slowed down in the second half and Turkish forward Enes Ünal made for an exciting finish by converting a penalty in the 69th minute following a VAR review for a foul by Ronald Araújo.

Getafe had a couple of half-chances to level but Uruguayan defender Araújo made amends for his foul on Ünal by heading in Messi’s corner in the 87th minute to effectively kill the game.

Barça earned a penalty in added time but Messi surrendered the chance to score a hat-trick and handed the ball to Antoine Griezmann who slammed in the spot-kick. The win took Barça back up to third place on 68 points, five behind leaders Atletico Madrid but with a game in hand.

– April 23, 2021
Barcelona maintains support of Super League despite backlash