Pep Guardiola has criticised the nub of the controversial European Super League plan - but added that Uefa’s self-interest has helped to create the monster.
The Manchester City coach said he is reserving his full opinion until he has been given the complete details of the proposals, having only been made aware of City’s decision to join the 20-club competition a few hours before it was announced on Sunday night.
But Guardiola hammered the central tenet, which is that 15 of the clubs - including City - will be granted an automatic place in the ESL every season, without having to qualify through success in their domestic leagues, as happens at present.
Guardiola, who has also managed Barcelona, another of the six clubs involved, and current Champions League holders Bayern Munich - who are not involved and have strongly condemned the proposals, said Uefa cannot escape their share of the blame.
Some City fans feel the decision to snub the Champions League in favour of the new, independent be an appropriate piece of revenge for the way the Blues have been pursued by Uefa in terms of their questionable financial fair play rules.
Last year Uefa banned City from the Champions League for two years and fined them 30million euros after the Club Financial Control Body found them guilty of illegally channelling funds through sponsors into the club to subvert the FFP rules.
City said Uefa’s prosecution was flawed and biased from the start, and Guardiola repeatedly expressed his belief that the club would be vindicated.
That happened when the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared the Blues of wrongdoing, only allowing a 10million euros fine to remain over City’s refusal to cooperate with the initial Uefa investigation.
Uefa and City both expressed a desire, after that episode, to put the matter behind them and build a stronger future relationship.
But Guardiola reflected a feeling within the club that Uefa has continued to look after its own interests - and that their failure to anticipate the ESL manoeuvres by working more closely with clubs, has led to this point.
“Uefa looks after their interest,” said Guardiola. “When you arrive at that point, Uefa have failed. They have to communicate and be in touch before.”
Guardiola made the point that, with Europe’s governing body following its own self-interest, no one should be surprised if clubs, coaches and players all follow suit and do what is best for themselves.
And with football being hit hard by the pandemic, Guardiola said that position has simply hardened.
“Everyone is suffering and struggling in this situation and all the clubs are suffering a lot for the badges - so they have to clarify, they have to make a statement, real clear, why they decide to do this step and after the people have to decide what they are going to do,” he said.
“At the end, of course, we have to go all together, in the same hand, as much as possible, but at the same time don’t be cynical because everyone looks for himself.”
He pointed out that Uefa and Fifa have both pressed ahead with their own competitions calendar despite the fixture list being congested by a shortened season.
But the City boss did appear to confuse the two bodies, blaming Uefa for the fact that Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski was missing for his team’s Champions League quarter-final defeat by Paris Saint-Germain, after being injured playing for Poland against Andorra in the last international break.
That was actually a World Cup qualifier, so came under Fifa’s umbrella, but the point from Guardiola about self-interest stood, with Uefa also insisting on going ahead with their Nations League qualifying games in the first part of the season.
“Uefa thinks for itself, don’t think about for example that in the toughest part of the season, the more important part of the season, when we play 10 months to win the titles, Lewandowski was injured on international duty and cannot play the quarter-finals against PSG because he played an international game that Uefa decided to play.
“Uefa decides his business - they were not thinking about Bayern Munich and unfortunately Lewy was injured in Poland-Andorra and could not play in the quarter-final when he was 10 months fighting and playing every single game.
“The responsibility is Bayern Munich? No, it is Uefa. But when we talk about that, they don’t listen - like the Premier League here, everyone looks for himself and that is the point.”