Pep Guardiola told UEFA to face up to its own failure after the European Super League project left football on the brink of disaster.
Manchester City were the first club to confirm their withdrawal from the ill-conceived breakaway project on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after the announcement of the tournament provoked widespread fury.
Players, coaches, rival clubs, national federations, FIFA, UEFA and national governments lined up to condemn the closed-shop format of the competition, where the Premier League’s ‘big six’ were set to be founder members alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan.
Chelsea had also reportedly reached a decision to leave by the time City issued a brief, one-paragraph statement to confirm they would step away, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham all doing likewise in a flurry of late-night activity in England.
After City’s announcement, UEFA issued a release from its president Aleksander Ceferin, praising the Premier League leaders for showing “great intelligence” and “courage” for admitting to their mistake.
In remarks made before those pleasantries, Guardiola was far less complimentary about European football’s governing body.
“UEFA has to know: if this [Super League] has happened, it’s because it’s too late,” he said.
“Something will happen. Always they fail. UEFA fails.
“Some important clubs have created this important situation. Why? Why? Tell me why?”
City clashed with UEFA over recent years, culminating in a two-year ban from the organisation’s competitions for contravening Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules that was subsequently quashed on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last July.
But Guardiola’s ire appeared to be focused upon the drive to squeeze more matches out of top clubs – an element the newly expanded Champions League format has in common with the now doomed Super League.
The Premier League, another organisation to have emerged with significant credit over a tumultuous couple of days, were also in his crosshairs.
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“We spoke at the beginning of the season, about how many games there were. We spoke about the Premier League and the clubs – not the players – and instead of reducing the competition, we played more,” he said.
“You think it’s normal that all the clubs fight for 10 months, when they have spent a huge amount of money for these players and staff, to put the players out for three games [a week]? And then injuries and their seasons are over.
“What is the problem for UEFA? Zero. ‘Why don’t you finish the season, play for the national teams, play the European Championship? Why not?’.
“They don’t care. They play for their own business.”
Greed has been an accusation understandably thrown at City and the other clubs to have dabbled with the Super League project and this was not something Guardiola disputed.
Indeed, ahead of his team’s packed schedule continuing at Aston Villa on Wednesday, he stated the aims of the boardroom being realised have already been to the detriment of his players.
“Of course it’s getting worse, but who cares? It’s business, it’s money. Just for this six [Premier League] teams? No, no. For everyone,” he added.
“FIFA as well. The World Cup: we started with 16 and it went up and up and we’re going to play with 50 countries. Ah, but it’s okay. UEFA? More games.
“And the clubs. Do they listen to what the managers or the footballers said? When the season finished, we have two-three weeks off and then start again, start again. You demand.
“What about the problems about injuries? Absolutely nothing. Pick another player. The show must go on.
“Then maybe they think of something that maybe they don’t like, then they react.”
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