The biggest names in football would be banned from the World Cup if they played in a breakaway European Super League, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Wednesday.
Infantino, speaking to a small group of reporters at FIFA headquarters, said the governing body would punish players at clubs like Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich if they left the organised structure to form a privately-owned league.
“Either you are in or you are out,” Infantino said, listing the World Cup, European Championship and national leagues as competitions that players from breakaway teams could be excluded from.
Any breakaway from football's historic hierarchy – FIFA, the six continental bodies and 211 national federations – would allow officials to ban players from major competitions, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“This is the history of the last 20 years,” said Infantino, who has clashed this year with European officials and club leaders over FIFA's proposed Club World Cup project, which is funded by Japanese investor SoftBank.
Infantino said his plan – potentially featuring at least 12 European clubs in a 24-team lineup, and worth a promised $3 billion every four years – was a good alternative to a private closed league.
With Qatar unable to host a 48-team event alone, Infantino acknowledges there's only a “Certainly small” chance of sharing the World Cup with neighbouring countries.
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 years ago