Nasser Al Khelaifi: ESL backers trying to ‘rewrite history and divide football’

The backers of the European Super League are attempting to “rewrite history with PR presentations and PowerPoints”, the chairman of the European Club Association Nasser Al Khelaifi has said.

A22 Sports Management, a company behind the Super League which is trying to reposition it as an open and inclusive competition, met with UEFA and representatives from the ECA and a host of other groups on Tuesday.

Al Khelaifi, who as Paris St Germain president repeatedly rejected invitations and pressure to join the Super League when it was controversially launched in April last year, was unimpressed by what he heard at the meeting.

Addressing the UEFA Convention on the Future of European Football on Wednesday, Al Khelaifi, who is also a UEFA executive committee member, said: “As we saw yesterday at our meeting with A22 – maybe it will become A23 or A24 next, a new rebrand each year – some people are still trying to rewrite history and to divide football with PR presentations and PowerPoints.

“To be honest, I feel sad for them because they proved yesterday that they just don’t understand football and its ecosystem.”

UEFA expressed surprise that A22 said it did not represent any clubs, with Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid still known to publicly support it.

“We hear that the Champions League isn’t exciting enough and that European football is completely broken,” Al Khelaifi said.

“But (Barca, Juve and Real) continue to play in the tournaments, I don’t understand. Last week, for my club, the winner of the group was decided in the last minute – congratulations to Benfica, the well-deserved winners.

“And every team in Group D could have finished top or bottom of the group.  But apparently that’s not exciting enough and they have the solution.”

Fans in England spoke out against the Super League
Fans in England spoke out against the Super League (Adam Davy/PA)

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli – who had been ECA chairman until the Super League scandal – said earlier this year that the clubs involved in the initial plans still had “binding contracts” despite their decision to withdraw amid opposition from fans.

Al Khelaifi concluded his speech by adding: “Football is not a legal contract, it is a social contract.  When the fans were protesting in the streets, they were not shouting about legal commitments.

“Football is a bond between clubs and players, between players and fans, between fans and communities. It is an invisible spirit that can never be broken, and the ECA will make sure it never is.”