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UEFA president Ceferin slams 'snakes' Woodward and Agnelli after Man Utd and Juventus lead Super League proposals

15:27 BST 19/04/2021
Ed Woodward Andre Agnelli
With 12 sides stating their intention to form a breakaway competition, the head of European football has blasted back at their actions

UEFA president Alexander Ceferin has hit out at Manchester United and Juventus supremos Ed Woodward and Andrea Agnelli, branding them "snakes" after leading proposals for a breakaway Super League.

A format that has been mooted for some time is now in the pipeline, with 12 leading club sides from across European stating their intention to form an invite-only competition for the continental elite.

Premier League giants United, one of six teams from England to form part of the plans, are said to have been ringleaders in the talks with Serie A heavyweights Juve also figuring prominently.

What has been said?

Ceferin, the head of European football's governing body, has not taken kindly to the discussions that have been held behind his back, telling reporters when outlining tweaks to the Champions League format: "Look, for me, I have seen many things in my life. I was a criminal lawyer for 24 years so I have seen different people, but I have never ever seen people like that. 

"If I start with Ed Woodward, because it will be shorter, I didn't have much contact with him but he called me last Thursday in the evening. He said he is very satisfied with the reforms, that he fully supports the reforms and that the only thing he would like to speak about is Financial Fair Play. Obviously, he had already signed something else.

"I don't want to speak much about Andrea Agnelli. He is probably one of the biggest disappointments or the biggest of all. I don't want to be too personal but the fact is that I have never seen a person that would lie so many times and persistently than he did. It was unbelievable. 

"I spoke with him on Saturday afternoon and he said that these are only rumours, don't worry, nothing is going on, then he said I will call you in one hour and turned off his phone. The next day, we get the announcement. 

"As I said, I have seen many things in my life but never this. Obviously, greed is so strong that all the human values evaporate. Everything is gone with some people.

"We are different and we will stay different. You know, it is always good to learn in life who is who. 

"All the world knows now that they unanimously supported our reforms on Friday, when they obviously had signed the agreement [with the Super League]. All that are sitting there: Woodward, Agnelli, [Ivan] Gazidis and Pedro Lopes from Real Madrid. I don't have to explain more what I think about them."

Ceferin continued: "We might be naive in not knowing we have snakes close to us. Now we do. There will be legal action soon."

What else did Ceferin have to say?

Frustrated at the heart of European football being ripped out, the UEFA president was quick to condemn the actions of all of those involved - with United and Juve being joined in the Super League bubble by Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Inter and AC Milan.

Ceferin added: "I cannot stress more strongly UEFA and the footballing world are united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposals we have seen, fuelled purely by greed. It’s a nonsense of a project. This idea is a spit in the face for all football lovers and our society. We will not allow them to take this away from us."

The bigger picture

Ceferin has added his voice to those that have already spoken out against the introduction of a Super League.

Supporters, former players and sporting organisations have condemned the actions of a select few that stand accused of worrying more about lining their pockets than the good of the game.

Not every football superpower has been lured in by the proposals - Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain among those to steer clear of the project while Ajax have stated that they will not be joining the fold and Porto rejected an invitation.

"I trust the clubs from France and Germany who resisted this, let's say, temptation," said Ceferin. "I trust my team, the leagues, I trust the people in football federations. So football is not all corrupt, it is just a small part of it. 

"There's a small part led by greed and no one else. Mainly, they care about greed. You see some CEOs changing at clubs like we are changing our shirts. Some owners of clubs don't look at the numbers of goals but at the accounts only. 

"It is a strange word [trust]. It's an interesting journey for me and also an exciting one. As I said, I met a few big liars and many good people in football."

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