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European Super League in tatters as Atletico, Inter & AC Milan follow English clubs in quitting

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By Euronews
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Inter Milan and AC Milan had been among the twelve original members of the proposed Super League.
Inter Milan and AC Milan had been among the twelve original members of the proposed Super League.   -   Copyright  Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP
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Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, and AC Milan are the latest clubs to withdraw from plans for a new European Super League

The project for a breakaway European football competition has been left in tatters after all six English clubs also quit.

Nine of the 12 original teams that were planning to pioneer the new league have now formally pulled out of the project.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham all confirmed their decisions late on Tuesday.

What has been the reaction in Italy?

"FC Internazionale Milano confirms the club is no longer part of the Super League project," the Italian club said in a press release.

"We are always committed to giving the fans the best football experience; innovation and inclusion have been part of our DNA since our foundation. Our commitment with all stakeholders to improve the football industry will never change.

"Inter believe that football, like any sector of activity, should have an interest in constantly improving its competitions, in order to continue to excite fans of all ages all over the world, within a framework of financial sustainability.

"With this vision, we will continue to work together with institutions and all stakeholders for the future of the sport we all love."

City rivals AC Milan were also considering their position in the new league and confirmed later on Wednesday that they had also withdrawn.

"We accepted the invitation to participate in the Super League project with the genuine intention to deliver the best possible European competition for football fans around the world and in the best interest of the club and our own fans," the club said in a statement.

"However, the voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed about the Super League, and AC Milan must be sensitive to the voice of those who love this wonderful sport."

"We will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model for football," AC Milan added.

The announcements meant Juventus were the only Italian team left in the Super League, but the Turin club's president Andrea Agnelli said he believes the project cannot go on without the six English clubs.

Juventus said they were aware that other clubs had intended to withdraw from the project, but said that the necessary agreements had not been completed.

"While remaining convinced of the validity of the sporting, commercial and legal premises of the project, Juventus believes that it currently has little chance of being completed in the form in which it was initially conceived," the club said.

"Juventus remains committed to building long-term value for the Company and for the entire football movement."

And Spain?

Earlier on Wednesday, Atletico Madrid also announced their decision to quit the proposed breakaway league, after a meeting of its board of directors.

It said that it “decided to formally communicate to the Super League and the rest of the founding clubs its decision not to formalise its participation in the project.”

"For the club, harmony between all the groups that make up the red and white family, especially our fans, is essential."

"The first team squad and their coach have expressed their satisfaction with the club's decision, as they understand that sporting merits must take precedence over any other criteria."

Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona are also involved with the project and are yet to comment.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was appointed to oversee the Super League, said on Monday that the project was created "to save football".

Meanwhile, there has been some internal pressure on the Catalan club, from player Gerard Pique.

"Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever,'' he wrote on Twitter.

How the plans folded in England

In a 25-word statement, Manchester City were the first club to officially u-turn, saying they had "formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League."

The five other English clubs all subsequently confirmed their withdrawal.

"We have now had time to consider the matter fully and have decided that our continued participation in these plans would not be in the best interests of the Club, our supporters or the wider football community," Chelsea said.

"We didn't make the right decision here, which we fully accept," Arsenal said.

John Henry, the American billionaire who owns Liverpool, apologised to fans, staff and players in a video message, stressing: "I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days."

"It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of fans," he said. "Over these 48 hours, you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you."

"I know the entire LFC team has the expertise, leadership, and passion necessary to rebuild trust and help us move forward," he added.

AP Photo/Alastair Grant
All six English clubs withdrew from the Super League on Tuesday evening.AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Liverpool had been publicly urged to desert the Super League by its players who shared a tweet first posted by captain Jordan Henderson.

“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen," Henderson said. "This is our collective position.”

Fans enthusiastically welcomed the announcements by English clubs, as did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country," he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning. "We must continue to protect our cherished national game."

The Premier League had threatened to sanction the six rebel clubs and PM Johnson considered introducing laws to stop them forming a new European competition.

The other 14 English top-flight clubs met on Tuesday to "unanimously and vigorously" reject the Super League plans.

What has UEFA said?

European football was rocked after some of the continent's richest teams announced a few days ago they were forming a breakaway league.

The main controversy is that teams would not have to qualify to take part in the league, removing a key competitive element in some people's eyes.

Both the European football governing body (UEFA) and the global body (FIFA) had warned of consequences including excluding players from other national, regional or global competitions.

"It is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake," said Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA.

"They are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game."

"The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together."

In an overnight statement, the Super League had stood by its proposals, "convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change".

"Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community."

But the latest withdrawals have the project with just three of its twelve original proponents.

Additional sources • AP