Defiant Barcelona Refuses To Back Down From Super League
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BARCELONA — Barcelona will not apologize for its role in creating the failed European Super League and will appeal against any punishment from UEFA, president Joan Laporta said on Friday.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus are the last ones standing of the 12 clubs that signed up to the breakaway project in April, only for it to unravel when all six English sides plus Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid withdrew.
UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Barça, Real and Juve on Tuesday, prompting the three clubs to issue joint statements saying they would not bow down to pressure from the governing body.
"I've told (UEFA president Aleksander) Ceferin that we aren't going to say sorry. And we don't plan on paying any sanction," Laporta told a news conference on Friday.
"If we are sanctioned we'll go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)."
Laporta, who was elected Barcelona president for a second time in March after predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu signed the club up to the Super League, said Barca agreed to stay a part of it "to protect our interests and make football sustainable."
He also referred to proceedings opened by a Madrid court, which has asked the European Court of Justice to establish if FIFA and UEFA are breaching EU competition law by preventing clubs from creating a breakaway European Super League.
"We have a ruling which permits us to organize competitions," he added.
"Because many clubs left after being pressured by governments and UEFA, the Super League doesn't exist any more. But the company, which has rights given to it by a court, remains. We have the right to organise competitions if we wish."
Speaking in his first news conference since winning the presidential election, Laporta also said he was optimistic that the club would be able to agree a new contract with Lionel Messi, whose deal runs out at the end of June.
"Things are going well with Messi but it's not done yet. Messi really loves Barça and we're doing everything possible," he added.
He said he had not yet decided whether coach Ronald Koeman, who was hired by Bartomeu, would remain in charge next season.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)