Agnelli’s double game

The news of the creation of a European Super League founded by 12 great clubs has not liked almost anyone in Italy. Especially when discovering that Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus and also of the ECA (European Club Association) had betrayed the rest of the Italian teams that will not be able to participate in the project and those that in theory he represented until his resignation on Sunday. In fact, Serie A called an emergency meeting in the afternoon to address the issue to which, after an initial refusal, the three teams that would be part of the supposed Super League were also invited: Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan . Mario Draghi, Italian Prime Minister, as Macron and Johnson already did, showed his rejection of the initiative this Monday in a statement.

Newspapers woke up Monday with strong criticism of the idea. Even the newspapers that belong to the editorial group of the Agnelli family – the same one that controls Juventus – launched strong attacks against the plan. The idea was criticized by the articles of the Repubblica, La Stampa and the main sports newspapers such as Gazzetta dello Sport, which brought his position to the cover: “Super League? Super NO ”.

Agnelli’s double game – as a representative of the clubs and as the promoter of the new project – has stung the world of Italian football. UEFA – whose president, Aleksander Ceferin, described it as a “snake” – was preparing on Monday to make its reform of the new Champions League official without any shocks. Agnelli, as president of the ECA, considered it until yesterday “very, very close to an ideal Champions League.” The president of Juventus had worked on the reform of said competition before a change in the wheel that makes him now, suddenly, vice president of the new Super League.

Agnelli thus enlarges his fame of favoring only the rich clubs and confirms the rumors of having been hatching the plan taking advantage of the stoppage and the problems caused in football during the pandemic. Juventus, the team that his family presides over and owns, is going through a terrible season this year in which it is not even clear that they will qualify for next year’s Champions League; retains fourth place by one point difference. The Super League, without a doubt, would end with those kinds of problems.

The world of Italian football – beyond the three clubs invited to the new league – was directly opposed to the plan. On Monday, Atalanta, Cagliari and Hellas Verona requested exclusion from Serie A for the three teams that have joined the initiative. The president of the Italian Football Federation, Gabriele Gravina, underlined the opposition of the organization he represents. “The only possible reform is the one born of the UEFA proposal on the Champions League. Any other attempt to escape forward is not acceptable and is a damage for European football.

Politics also loaded in the same direction. As Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson already did, the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, showed his rejection of the initiative and assured that the Italian Executive is with UEFA. “The Government is closely following the debate around the Super League project and resolutely supports the positions of the Italian and European football authorities to preserve national competitions, the values ​​of meritocracy and the social function of sport,” he transmitted.

Along the same lines, the different political forces have forgotten the usual ideological and electoral differences. League leader Matteo Salvini opposed the measure. “As a Milan fan, he should be happy that we participate in the Super League with a lot of money coming in. But as a sports fan and Italian, I say that money is not everything. And the millions are not enough to erase symbols, history, merit or passion. Soccer belongs to everyone, not a privileged few ”. On the opposite bench in parliament, the leader of the PD, Enrico Letta, also lamented the progress of the project: “It is a wrong idea. Football and its beauty are also in stories like Atalanta, Leicester or Ajax. The NBA model cannot work in Europe ”.

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