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In the ninth item on the agenda of the Assembly, President Joan Laporta told the members about the European Superleague project, presenting a thorough review of the background, the evolution of the process and the current situation of a competition that was initially promoted by a group of 12 European clubs and that is currently “alive, but not mature enough to leave it in your hands”, so it was not possible to submit the item to a vote.
"There will be no voting because there is no format. Instead, I ask you to please allow me to continue to defend Barça's interests. This project suits us, I am convinced, and the moment the format is known, we will bring it to you for a vote."
Before reaching this conclusion, however, Laporta told the members about the evolution of a project that was already on the table when he took the Presidency, and of which he was aware during the election campaign. The president acknowledged that the issue is urgent, as "many clubs had been working on it for a long time", and that when he was able to read all the documentation and consult with lawyers he was able to confirm "for the first time that the project was feasible".
On the one hand, the economic conditions are very favourable, because the sporting and economic programme behind the Superleague includes an investment of 3.5 billion euros and "guarantees us more than 700 million euros per season plus variables." In addition to the financial conditions, however, another was added: “The memory of our historic error of not accepting an invitation to play in the European Cup when it was created because we decided to continue playing in the Fairs Cup. Another club accepted the invitation in our place and went on to win the first five editions."
According to Laporta, the biggest mistake with the current proposed tournament was "not knowing how to explain it properly, and it is important, crucial, to explain this project well. It needs the support of fans around the world. Howver, I am convinced that this will be the most attractive sports competition in the world, with meritocracy, solidarity and rules that will prevent club-states from adulterating the competition". Laporta acknowledged that the situation among football clubs is "very delicate and audiences have dropped a lot. In France, they have dropped by half, just at a time when a state-club is investing more than ever and can pay a player twice the salary. These practices do adulterate the competition."
After the 12 initial founder clubs of the competition announced their intentions, there were reactions from the world of football and also from the political world against the project. These pressures caused 9 of the 12 to “temporarily leave” the project “with the financial responsibilities that are derived from doing so”, a penalty of 350 million euros from which Barça is exempt, as Laporta decided that the club would only pull out if its members voted against participation.
UEFA threatened the three clubs that stayed firm (Barça, Real Madrid and Juventus) with possible sanctions, but "the three clubs managed to get a judge to prevent UEFA from sanctioning us for speaking, for debating. This trade court in Madrid is asking the European Union to verify whether UEFA and FIFA are operating a football monopoly. And a Swiss court has been told to inform UEFA and FIFA that it cannot sanction us for discussing the creation of a new competition. At this point, UEFA's proceedings to sanction us have stalled.
As a result, UEFA "has retreated following the recommendations of the Swiss court", but the Barça president is firmly standing his ground "because legality is on our side. We wanted to sit down and talk to UEFA, but they didn't want to. Our feelings must be respected. We will not apologise for thinking and for wishing to control our destiny."
Laporta also said that the project provides for meritocracy and solidarity. "We want to help the whole football pyramid. UEFA's solidarity provides for the distribution of 180 million to be distributed among 55 federations, and the Super League project, allocates 400 million to a solidarity fund."
Former president Joan Gaspart
When the floor was opened to the delegates, ex-president Joan Gaspart asked to speak to defend the arguments of the Board of Directors and to support them. “Barça must lead the dialogue with UEFA" he said. "You have our support for dialogue with UEFA and to defend the ideas you think are best for the Club. All but two clubs, us and one I won't name, are owned by one person. UEFA cannot close itself to dialogue and if any club can lead that dialogue, it is Barça.”
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