December 7, 2021

AC Milan chief executive and ex-Arsenal boss Gazidis plays down European Super League talk

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Rumours of a new competition resurfaced recently, but the Serie A club chief does not believe it will become a reality

AC Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis has downplayed the threat a potential European Super League poses to world football.

The possibility of Europe’s top teams breaking away from their domestic leagues to form a new competition has made headlines in recent years.

The idea became a big issue in the media when former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the Spanish club have accepted an invitation to join the league.

The league has been criticised from all corners of the sport, with La Liga chief Javier Tebas saying it is a “weak and imaginary competition” and FIFA president Gianni Infantino insisting the focus should be on the Club World Cup rather than a continental league.

Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he hopes it will “never happen”, Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola believes it would lead to the death of domestic football and ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned that the English top-flight would suffer drastically if the Super League became a reality.

Gazidis says the idea has been talked about for a long time and does not expect it to become a reality, though he believes football should be open-minded about new ideas.

“This conversation about the European Super League has been going on for probably more than 20 years,” he told BBC Sport. “The reality is there are many different ways that European football could develop over the next 5-10 years.

“I don’t think there’s a big likelihood that we see a Super League in the way that people talk about it.

“Do I think that there could be developments in the way that the Champions League develops? Absolutely I do. That’s a conversation we should have and have it with an open mind.”

The former Arsenal chief also called on Italian football to tackle its racism problem.

There have been many high-profile incidents of players suffering abuse from the stands in recent years and Gazidis believes updating the stadiums could help deal with the issue. 

“We see an environment in which there is a lack of respect kind of built in, perhaps similar to what we saw in England before the development of stadiums,” he said. “The new stadiums provide an atmosphere in which people feel more safe and secure.

“They have more technology in them, they’re more inclusive, you get more diversity in the crowds, women come, children come, people from every different race, colour, background and sexual orientation feel more welcome into the stadiums. That’s what we have to work towards here in Italy.

“I think England perhaps has been working on these issues in a deeper way for longer. That doesn’t mean they are anywhere near the end of the journey.”

He added: “Denying that we have issues and pushing them under the carpet does not help. The first thing is acknowledgment and then we can take action. This is a process, there is no end to the process that we’re on. The journey that football has taken over the last 20 or 30 years has been significant, but we have a long way to go.”