Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte, whose club were among 12 involved in the failed European Super League project, believes UEFA needs to consider a possible better distribution of revenues.
Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus on Wednesday reluctantly followed all six English clubs as well as Atletico Madrid in giving up on the closed European tournament, while continuing to push for change in world football.
Conte said that while sport should always be based on “meritocracy” and “traditions”, he believed the system of distribution of rights by the sport’s governing bodies needs to evolve.
“Only a small part is given to clubs participating in competitions,” said the former Chelsea and Juventus coach after the Serie A leaders were held 1-1 in their midweek league game against Spezia.
“Meritocracy must come first. Having said that, after everything that has happened, UEFA, they have to reflect too.”
“Clubs invest a lot in players and coaches, UEFA does not invest, although players are squeezed like lemons. Clubs must be rewarded more appropriately,” he added.
Italian champions Juventus, whose president Andrea Agnelli was one of the driving forces behind the ill-fated proposal, accepted the withdrawal of most of the founding teams made the plan unworkable.
“(Juventus) believe that at present there are limited chances that the project be completed in the form originally conceived,” the Turin club said.
They added that they were “convinced of the soundness of the project’s sport, commercial and legal premises”.
In an interview given before the withdrawal of the English clubs, Agnelli had insisted the breakaway league would go ahead.
“Between our clubs, there is a blood pact, we will move forward. (The project) has a 100 percent chance of success,” Agnelli told La Repubblica.
“Football is no longer a game but an industrial sector and it needs stability.”
Shares in Juventus plunged, closing the day on Wednesday at more than 13 percent down, at 0.735 euros, having reached their highest level since September on the announcement of the project.
Juve chief football officer Fabio Paratici defended the project as “a unique opportunity to try to lend a hand to the whole football pyramid”.
“It was the same when we changed our logo. In the beginning it wasn’t perceived well. It takes time to metabolise,” he said after the team’s 3-1 league win over Parma on Wednesday.
“These 72 hours were unique, we remain convinced of the goodness of the idea, of the project.”
– ‘Fans backlash’ –
Like Juventus, AC Milan did not formally withdraw but said they were bowing to a backlash from fans around the world.
“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,” said the seven-time European champions.
The club, owned by US-investment fund Elliot, added: “Change is not always easy, but evolution is necessary for progress, and the structures of European football have evolved and changed over the decades.
“We will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model for football.”
Milan club director Paolo Maldini apologised to fans before the team’s 2-1 defeat at home against Sassuolo on Wednesday.
“I want to make it clear that I have never been involved in discussions, I learned it on Sunday night like you did,” said Maldini.
“But that does not exempt me from apologising, not only to the Milan fans but to all the supporters in general.”
Chinese-owned Inter Milan confirmed they were “no longer part of the Super League project”.
“Inter believes that football, like every sector of activity, must have an interest in constantly improving its competitions, to keep on exciting fans of all ages around the world, within a framework of financial sustainability.”