Prince William has added his weight to the biggest crisis gripping the football world after insisting that the creation of a European Super League risks damaging English football.
The clubs - who are among the world's biggest and more prestigious - have decided to break away from the UEFA-sanctioned Champions League and start their new competition "as soon as possible", with plans for three more founding members to join and for five other clubs to be invited annually.
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The extraordinary proposal has led to protests from football fans around the world, with governments warning of sanctions and football's governing bodies threatening World Cup and international bans for any players that are a part of it.
Prince William - an avid Aston Villa fan and president of England's Football Association - has joined the British government and football's governing bodies in their staunch opposition to a proposal that has been branded "disgraceful" and a shameful money grab by fans all over the world.
“Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community – from the top level to the grassroots – and the values of competition and fairness at its core," Prince William tweeted.
"I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love.”
Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community – from the top level to the grassroots – and the values of competition and fairness at its core.
I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) April 19, 2021
British Prime Minster Boris Johnson's government says it's willing to step and change laws if necessary, to stop the 'big six' clubs from following through with the move.
As well as the outrage from the British government and fans, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin described the Super League plan as a "spit in the face" of all football lovers after calling an emergency meeting to discuss its implications.
"As soon as possible they (the clubs) and the players have to be banned from all our competitions," he added.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez - who is also the president of the controversial new breakaway league - hit back at suggestions that clubs could be thrown out of the Champions League for joining the proposed European Super League (ESL).
"They are the threats of someone who confuses monopoly with property," Perez, who has been named ESL president, said on television programme El Chiringuito.
"Madrid will not be kicked out of the Champions League, definitely not. Nor City, nor anyone else."
He added: "It's not going to happen. I don't want to get into the legal reasons but it's not going to happen. It's impossible."
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European football's governing body also said players could be stopped from featuring for their countries too.
"Any player can be totally calm because that is not going to happen," 74-year-old Perez said. "UEFA is a monopoly and it also has to be transparent. UEFA does not have a good image in its history. It has to be open to dialogue and not threatening," he added.
Earlier Perez claimed the move had been made to save the sport, despite the fierce backlash the idea has copped around the world.
"Football has to keep changing and adapting to the times. Football is losing interest. Something must be done," Perez said. "Football is the only sport that is global. Television has to change to adapt to the times. We have to think about why 16-24 year-olds are no longer interested in football.
"There are poor quality matches and there are other platforms for entertainment. Football has to change.
"A group of clubs from some European countries want to do something to make this sport more attractive worldwide," Perez added.
He said the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated the need for change and clubs cannot afford to wait for UEFA's proposed Champions League reforms.
"The new Champions League is supposed to start in 2024," said Perez. "In 2024, all the clubs will be dead."
Perez claimed the new league would also help smaller clubs. "They have said it is a league for the rich and it's not true. It's a league to save football," he said.
"The money goes to everyone, it is a pyramid. If those above have money, it trickles down.
"There are 15 teams that generate value and five will enter on sporting merit. It is not closed. It is open. We have never thought of a closed league."
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