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Champions League

Ceferin slams ‘lies’ from Juventus chief Agnelli

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has warned rebel clubs and executive owners that they will face “consequences” for their aborted breakaway, including Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli who is claimed to have lied.

“I have never seen a person who would lie so many times and so persistently as he did,” Ceferin said, leaving a previously close personal relationship [with Agnelli] in tatters.

The failed attempt to create an elite Super League, as a direct rival to UEFA’s Champions League, has left Ceferin newly emboldened at the helm of Europe’s governing body.

“The doors of UEFA are open, and at the same time everyone will have to suffer the consequences for their actions,” Ceferin told Slovenian television station POP TV.

“I expect a lot more to happen by Friday. Believe me, anyone who says he is completely calm in this situation is not telling the truth,” Ceferin said. “I received SMS [text] support from practically all clubs in Europe. So now we expect everyone to realise their mistake and suffer the appropriate consequences.”

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UEFA holds an executive committee meeting on Friday, and although Ceferin did not elaborate on what price might be paid by the clubs, he did indicate that Real Madrid’s involvement in their Champions League semifinal with Chelsea was not likely to be impacted given complications for broadcasters.

“There is a relatively small chance that this match will not take place next week. But it will be a little different in the future,” he said.

UEFA’s lawyers are expected to offer options over response measures at Friday’s meeting and bans and suspensions could be justified under the organisation’s rule prohibiting unauthorised “combinations” or “alliances” of clubs.

“There will be some members who call for punishment but lawyers are more likely to be interested in protecting the organisation and tightening up the rulebook,” said one source close to UEFA.

However, Ceferin will be aware that clubs who have been punished for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations will take a dim view of other teams getting away with making a move which could have destroyed the lucrative Champions League.

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Agnelli said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that the project could not proceed after all six English Premier League teams withdrew late on Tuesday, leaving the 45-year-old in an awkward position.

Alessandro Nasi, vice-chairman of Exor, the holding company with a 63.8% stake in Juventus, recently-elected member of the FIFA council Evelina Christillin, and even World Cup-winning former Italy coach Marcello Lippi were touted as potential successors.

However, when speaking to Reuters, Agnelli indirectly suggested he is going nowhere: “I would look at the glass half full: this will give me time to focus everything on Juventus alone, which is my love,” he said.

Juventus have so far denied any reports of Agnelli’s imminent departure, and Tuttosport wrote that he is not currently at risk of losing his position.

But Corriere dello Sport said his “relationships with international institutions, FIFA and UEFA, are at an all-time low,” while Sky Italia described Juve’s Continassa training ground as “like a bunker, Agnelli under siege.”

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