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Players union says survival of smaller clubs and leagues at risk

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Players union says survival of smaller clubs and leagues at risk

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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Global footballers' union FIFPro has warned that the survival of smaller clubs and leagues is at risk, potentially affecting thousands of jobs, due to the increased concentration of wealth in the sport.

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The union's comments followed reports on the 'Football Leaks' documents obtained by German publication Der Spiegel and reviewed by Reuters in partnership with European Investigative Collaborations, a network of international media, earlier this month that plans for a Super League were back on the agenda.

Der Spiegel said a fresh plan had recently been drafted by Spanish company Key Capital Partners for Real Madrid which foresees 11 top European clubs creating a Super League in 2021.

Key Capital Partners has not commented on the report.

"It is important that the top clubs and competitions recognise they have a responsibility towards the entire industry," FIFPro said in a statement on Tuesday.

"It is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to protect the integrity and values of football."

FIFPro said the current system, which gives all clubs the possibility to take part in European competition through sporting merit, needed to be maintained.

"The sustainability of the professional football pyramid needs to be safeguarded," it said.

"The economic survival of smaller clubs and leagues is at risk and competitiveness within championships is vanishing. This affects millions of fans, thousands of jobs for players and raises serious questions about the viability of the industry.

"FIFPro supports a united football industry and the benefits of connected competitions."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said last week that any players involved in a breakaway league would be barred from playing for their national teams, including at the World Cup.

"We will... defend the ability of players to represent their country and their right to offer their services to any club," said FIFPro.

"We are strongly opposed to the prospect of these freedoms being limited as a consequence of a fight between competition organisers."

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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