Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery claims the "essence" of football is at risk as the European Super League (ESL) wages a "war for control" of the sport.

Emery managed the Gunners for 18 months before his dismissal in late 2019 and he is set to lead Villarreal against his old side in the Europa League semi-finals later this month.

As it stands, it could be Arsenal's final season competing in UEFA's competitions, as they are one of 12 founding members of the breakaway ESL.

But it remains to be seen if the tie with Villarreal will go ahead, as UEFA have threatened to kick Arsenal out of this season's Europa League due to their plans to form their own competition.

Emery has led Villarreal to the semi-finals of the Europa League
Emery has led Villarreal to the semi-finals of the Europa League

And Emery outlined his personal opposition to the ESL as he lamented what the proposals could mean for the future of football.

"This is a war for the control of football," said the Spaniard. "The clubs have rebelled against control of UEFA.

"My position, in principle, is (that I am) against it. It is very risky for football and its essence."

Emery's opposition to the European Super League is shared by La Liga, who released a statement blasting the proposals on Monday.

The Spaniard offered his personal view on the ESL
The Spaniard offered his personal view on the ESL

“La Liga strongly condemns the recently published proposal for a breakaway, elitist European competition that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid,” reads La Liga’s statement.

“Today football fans across Europe can dream that their club, no matter the size, may excel, climb to the top and compete at the pinnacle of European football. La Liga defends this European tradition of football for all.

“The concept proposed by 12 European clubs destroys that dream, shutting the door to the top of European football, allowing in just an elite few.”

The statement adds: “The newly proposed top European competition is nothing more than a selfish, egotistical proposal designed to further enrich the already super rich. It will undermine the appeal of the whole game and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future of La Liga, its member clubs, and all the entire footballing ecosystem.”

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