Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said the European Super League is “a necessity,” but that the club’s members will have the last word on the proposal.
Barca were one of the 12 founding members of the project and have not yet withdrawn their support for it. However, eight of the clubs involved — all six English clubs as well as Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid — have withdrawn to leave the competition in tatters just three days after it was launched.
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Despite the public backlash, Laporta said that the league still exists and the club are willing to hold talks with UEFA.
“We had a position and we still have one and we will explain,” he told TV3. “The position is one of caution, but it [ESL] is a necessity. On the other hand, as it should be, our members will have the last word on it.
“It’s absolutely necessary that the big clubs, given that we generate a lot of revenue, we want to have the capacity to have our say on the sharing process. And also, we believe that it’s important that this is accompanied by an attractive competition based on sporting merit.
“We are the defenders of maintaining local leagues and therefore, we are always open to dialogue with UEFA. That is the premise. Everyone wants to make football better and have the necessary resources to make it a great spectacle.
“Because if the big clubs don’t have these resources, football will be damaged. There will be institutional harmony and a willingness to think about all this.
“There was a series of pressure which made some clubs pull out or value it in a different way, but the fact is that the proposal still exists but more resources are needed given that we have important investment, we paid important salaries, and if we want football to be a spectacle through sporting merits, whoever wants this level of quality to be maintained must take into account what we are proposing.”
Laporta’s comments come after Barca defender Gerard Pique criticised the ESL and said the plans would have “destroyed the entire football ecosystem.” Speaking in his news conference on Wednesday, Barca boss Ronald Koeman blasted UEFA for only focusing on money and ignoring football players and managers.
Barcelona echoed Laporta via a statement late Thursday reiterating that they will remain in the European Super League.
“It would have been a historical error to turn down the opportunity to be part of this project as one of its founding members,” the statement reads.
The club statement also reiterated that the final decision rests with the members.
“FC Barcelona, as a club that always has been and always shall be owned by each and every one of its members, expressly reserved the right to submit such an important decision to the final approval of its competent social bodies following careful and very necessary study of the proposal.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona and Real Madrid will not be punished by La Liga, despite being two of the three clubs that are still remaining in the ESL. Atletico Madrid withdrew from the breakaway European competition on Wednesday.
“Let’s not rush in terms of sanctions,” La Liga president Javier Tebas said on Thursday. “We are not looking to apply any sanctions for the time being. They have not abandoned La Liga. It was a proposal that hasn’t been fruitful.
“Atletico Madrid already withdrew from the Super League. “We are working on protective measures to make sure that this doesn’t happen in the future.”
Villarreal president Fernando Roig, whose side takes on Barcelona on Sunday in La Liga before facing Arsenal in the Europa League semifinals four days later, agrees. “It’s not a case of banning anyone,” he said. “I’m totally against banning or handing sanctions. We have to sit round a table and talk.”
Tebas said Madrid and Barcelona need to be “realistic” and consider the Super League is “dead.”
“It’s dissolving like a lump of sugar,” Tebas said of the proposed Super League. “In just 48 hours, it’s almost gone. If it was going to be all wonderful for football, they would not have done this behind our backs, hidden. Either they are lying, or they are mistaken that this would help football when it’s the opposite, it destroys football.”
Tebas reminded Barca and Real Madrid that they are powerful because of the Spanish competition. “It’s the power of La Liga,” he said. “They are what they are because of Spanish competitions.”
Tebas believes both Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Laporta are wrong in thinking the Super League is a necessity for football. “The pandemic generated losses, and obviously bigger clubs have bigger expenses,” he said.
“But aside from the pandemic, Real Madrid has not generated losses in the previous five years. European football is not going go bankrupt by 2024. We don’t have this catastrophe that they are referring to.”