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Atletico Madrid and Italian clubs follow English exodus to leave Super League in ruins

The group of 12 is now down to just two — Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Inter striker Lautaro Martinez and Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid.
Inter striker Lautaro Martinez and Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid.
Image: Acero/AlterPhotos/ABACA

Updated Apr 21st 2021, 12:50 PM

ATLETICO MADRID, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus have followed all six English Premier League clubs in pulling out of the European Super League, dealing a fatal blow to a project that prompted an incendiary reaction from supporters.

The withdrawal by Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, just 48 hours after the league’s unveiling, followed a furious reaction from fans, officials and politicians.

Atletico Madrid, Inter, AC and Juventus announced they were pulling out on Wednesday, whittling the original “Dirty Dozen” down to just two clubs — Real Madrid and Barcelona.

“For the club, harmony is essential between all the groups that make up the rojiblanco family, especially our fans,” Atletico said in a statement.

“We accepted the invitation to participate in the Super League project with the genuine intention to deliver the best possible European competition for football fans around the world and in the best interest of the club and our own fans,” said an AC Milan statement.

“Change is not always easy, but evolution is necessary for progress, and the structures of European football have evolved and changed over the decades.

“However, the voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed about the Super League, and AC Milan must be sensitive to the voice of those who love this wonderful sport.

“We will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model for football.”

A member of the entourage of Juventus president Andrea Agnelli acknowledged it was an impossible task to proceed without the English clubs.

A Juventus statement said that “at present there are limited chances that the project be completed in the form originally conceived.”

The Super League promised guaranteed entry for its founding clubs and billions of dollars in payments. Most of the clubs have huge debts and wage bills, and suffered a sharp drop in revenues during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the project was vehemently opposed across the football spectrum, from fans to players, coaches, politicians and Uefa and Fifa, the European and world football bodies.

The clubs were threatened with a ban from domestic and European football, while their players could even have been barred from representing their countries.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin struck a conciliatory tone on Wednesday, saying he wanted to “rebuild the unity” of European football, and described the English clubs as “back in the fold”.

I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake,” Ceferin said in a statement.

“But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.

“The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”

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Shares in Juventus plunged by more than 10% on Wednesday following a slump in the value of Manchester United stocks.

Shortly after English pull-outs, the Super League said it was looking for ways to “reshape”, insisting the “status quo of European football needs to change”.

“We shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project,” its statement said.

© – AFP, 2021

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