MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina became the latest player to hit out at the planned new European Super League on Tuesday, saying the new competition is not a fair proposal.
The Lazio player’s comments follow criticism of the breakaway from a number of players including Bruno Fernandes, Ander Herrera, Ada Hegerberg and James Milner on Monday.
Former Liverpool and Barcelona – two of the 12 founder clubs of the Super League – goalkeeper Reina questioned the lack of sporting merit involved in the plans.
“For romantics, and those of us who have grown up through football, you dream to be able to play in big games – but because of your own sacrifices, fighting spirit, hard work and sporting merit that you earn on the pitch,” the 38-year-old told Spanish radio station SER.
“This is a value that should be the number one rule that’s respected in football, and using that as a base go from there.
“There’ll definitely be things to improve (in European football), and the pandemic will of course have made holes (financially), however you need these changes to be a consequence of what you achieve on the pitch.”
The renegade clubs – six from the English Premier League plus three each from Spain and Italy – will be guaranteed places in the new competition in contrast to the Champions League, which requires teams to qualify via their domestic leagues.
U.S. investment bank JP Morgan (JPM.N) is financing the new league, providing a 3.5 billion euro ($4.2 billion) grant to the founding clubs to spend on infrastructure and recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not fair. Granted, the majority of those founder clubs will generate more money that others, but it’s not fair to qualify for a tournament just because of decree, it’s not in line with sporting values,” Reina added.
(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Christian Radnedge)