BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain was the only European Union member to refuse to sign a joint statement on sports released by France on Thursday because the government in Madrid saw it as a premature attack on the Super League.
France’s sports ministry released the non-binding statement signed by the 25 other EU member states except for Spain.
While it did not explicitly mention the Super League, the statement said it “invites sport governing bodies to organize sporting competitions in compliance with the principles of openness, equal opportunities, sporting merit, link between annual performance in domestic competitions and all European competitions.”
Spain’s Higher Council for Sport considered that language to be a criticism of the Super League, which is being back by Spain’s Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The council said in a statement on Thursday that its government does not want to take a formal position on the Super League until a Spanish mercantile court rules on a case brought by the rebel league’s backers against UEFA.
Instead, Spain said it will propose a formal meeting of the sports ministers of the EU states to discuss the Super League.
Initial plans for the Super League were unveiled in 2021 and included some of Europe’s most storied clubs. The proposed 20-team elite tournament would have seen 15 top clubs protected from relegation and would have effectively replaced the Champions League, Europe’s elite club tournament run by UEFA via the national soccer federations.
Those plans quickly fell apart under pressure from fans, the British government, and Europe’s national leagues — including Spain’s La Liga, which is vehemently opposed to the Super League.
Only Real Madrid, whose president was the mastermind of the project, and Barcelona remained in favor of the Super League.
They took their case to court and won a decision last year at the Court of Justice of the European Union, which ruled that UEFA and FIFA acted contrary to EU competition law by blocking plans for a breakaway competition. The Super League has since released a modified competition plan that would include relegation and promotion.
French President Emmanuel Macron is attempting to lead a push in favor of the traditional model of competition since the Super League’s victory in court.
Petrequin reported from Brussels.
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