There docuseries on the Super Leagueairing today on Apple TV+, with the title “The Super League Case” it has given the main players in the world of European football the opportunity to publicly address all the various themes and backgrounds concerning an event that was never really born, but which brings with it both so many controversies and so many hopes.
In the category of opponents can not miss Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFAwho gave his all to oppose the Super League project.
«Football is hope – Ceferin began in the interview reported in the docuseries – where the weakest can manage to knock down the strongest, everyone has a chance. It is a dream that must stay alive forever. You can rise to the top from nothing and that’s how things are supposed to stay. I can easily relate to a small team, since I made myself».
On relationship with AgnelliCeferin recalls: «I met him even before I became president of UEFA. He later became one of the ECA, a few months after my election and this led us to work side by side for many years. He seemed to me a good man, humble despite his origins and the status of his family. We became friends. We also met with our respective wives and someone started to insinuate that we were too close given the positions we held, but I have always defended our friendship. I often spoke with Agnelli about the reforms among other things and it was a topic we discussed practically every day. We had long discussions to find a balance and a solution for everyone. In the end we found an agreement that was good for both UEFA and the clubs and finding it, when there is an industry that generates 40-50 million a year, is simply a miracle. When he asked me to be his daughter’s godfather, I was proud of it, it meant that there was a relationship of affection and trust».
Ceferin also tells when he learned about launch of the Super League: «We were ready to propose the reform of the Champions League to the executive committee and I was getting ready to go by car to Switzerland, it would have taken me 8 hours, but I was convinced it was going to be a piece of cake so I decided to drive. That Saturday, April 17, I got up early, therefore, then I received a phone call from an exponent of the sector informing me that everything was ready for the Superlega and that they would announce it that day or at the latest the next. I was very angry. I immediately called Agnelli and told him I had heard of Superlega. He told me it wasn’t true, that they were just rumors. At that point I told him to hold a press conference to deny everything and reiterate that ECA and UEFA were united towards football reform. He told me there was no problem and asked me to prepare a draft statement for him to have. I was afraid that with a Super League all the money would remain in the hands of very few clubs and that the development of women’s and youth football would stop. If you privatize the system, you destroy football in small countries. For this we need rules and a governing body».
The story goes on: “I couldn’t call Agnelli, I called his wife and let him through. He told me that the press release wasn’t much and that he wanted to change some passages. He told me I’ll change a few things and call you back. From his voice he sounded agitated but I wanted to convince myself it was just my unwarranted paranoia. He didn’t call me back, I tried to call him back two hours later but the phone was off the hook, I understood he was hiding. He hadn’t told me the truth, I understood that he had cheated on me. Many have told me “are you sure you can trust him” and I didn’t listen to them, I was blinded by being friends with him. You can’t lie like that even in business, there’s a code of conduct. For me this transcends all morality. The news leaked with incredible speed, the rumors circulating in football with sensational speed. In Switzerland there were 55 federations, there was great excitement but I tried to calm them down by hiding my true feelings. There was great confusion, I kept thinking until we found the solution to address the issue right away. I wanted to attack them directly. I had hopes that the teams would come to their senses, the goal was to put unbearable pressure on the teams to push them to abandon the project. I spoke to one of the member teams and told him that if he accepted we would become enemies. I will fight to the end I will go to the end so the war for football started. The Superlega compromised the fans’ sense of identity».
Ceferin concludes with the narration of the moments that start from the announcement of the Superlega and arrive at the immediately following hours: «They made the announcement in the middle of the night, it was a direct confrontation with no more possibility of dialogue. It was the worst experience of my life, then it was all a big mess for 48 hours. At night, like vampires, they made the statement: there for the first time I saw which teams entered. Obviously I was disappointed and didn’t know about the bank and the billion dollar loan. After the announcement, a direct confrontation started. For me it was a declaration of war. The billionaires behind the Superlega will certainly have taken into account that some fans would have been unhappy but they didn’t believe a revolution, a revolt would have been unleashed. The reaction of the British government would have put a lot of pressure on the teams threatening serious problems if they didn’t abandon the project. They say UEFA has a monopoly. We’ve always said that if you play in other competitions you can’t play in ours, it’s anything but anti-competitive. Everyone hates governments and government agencies, but our competitions are great and everyone wants to participate. That’s the difference from elite leagues, where you quit and think you’re the best. The Superleague was a fight for social democracy against the merciless capitalism that is ruining the world. Not everything is for sale, some things are sacred. It is very important that you have admitted that you were wrong. For people with so much money it’s hard to admit, so I respect the nine clubs that came out as much as I respect the three who are still living in their world. You can’t fix something that isn’t broken and the Champions League isn’t broken, but you can always improve. The one and only Super League, the real one, is the Champions League but it’s not closed, it’s just super. We did a big thing, we saved football and I felt good. I still think people are supposed to be trusted but I’ve learned that even those you trust and are closest to can lie».
One last joke about Agnelli: «You have to understand me, I don’t want to talk much about him. I deleted that man from my life, certain betrayals cannot be forgotten. You have to admit your mistakes, as do the nine teams (Inter, Milan, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, ed.) have admitted their mistake of entering a bogus project, I can admit to having had a false friend».