PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, greets Bayern's Lucas Hernandez at the end of the Champions League, second leg, quarterfinal soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PSG, Bayern the big names missing from Super League plan

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — The plan for the new Super League soccer competition is, surprisingly, missing the names of Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

Last year’s Champions League finalists were noted absentees from the dozen elite European clubs who announced the plan on Sunday.

Bayern could face difficulties convincing its fans and members, who have a majority say in club business. PSG’s Qatari owners could be wary of disrupting next year’s World Cup — which will be played in Qatar — and a lucrative UEFA broadcast deal if there’s a civil war in European soccer.

The Super League has signed up 12 clubs from England, Spain and Italy and left open three more spots for founding members, who will get permanent places in the competition. Bayern, PSG and Borussia Dortmund have been linked with those places.

Bayern coach Hansi Flick said he opposes the Super League.

“I think it would not be good for European soccer,” Flick said Monday.

Dortmund said that it and Bayern both reject the Super League and are in favour of reforming the existing Champions League. Both are on the board of the European Club Association, which held an emergency meeting Sunday after representatives of the Super League clubs quit the organization.

“It was the clear opinion of the members of the ECA board that the plans for founding a Super League are rejected,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said in a statement. “Both of the German clubs which are represented on the ECA board, FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, put forward 100% identical views in all conversations.”

Germany’s rules on fan ownership, known as 50%+1 for the voting stake which members must have, pose a problem for the Super League. Fan organizations at the English clubs oppose the plans but have little or no say in how their clubs are run. The Super League waited until after recent elections of club presidents at Real Madrid and Barcelona to launch its plans.

German fans could in theory block their clubs from being involved. Bayern was due to have its annual general meeting last week but it was postponed to the end of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bayern members have a 75% stake in the company which runs the team. The rest is held by sponsors.

Even Bayern and Dortmund’s position — expanding the existing UEFA-run Champions League to more games — rankles many German fans. Dortmund supporters hung a banner reading “STOP UCL REFORMS!” in the empty stadium when the team played Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Super League dispute complicates Qatar’s efforts to win support across Europe for its hosting of next year’s World Cup. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is well connected at UEFA, with a seat on its executive committee. He is also the chairman of Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Media Group, which holds Champions League rights for large areas of the world.

French politicians have come out against the Super League concept. President Emmanuel Macron’s office said the proposed league “threatens the principal of solidarity and sporting merit” and vowed government backing for efforts to oppose the Super League.

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