UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has accused the 12 clubs behind a proposed European Super League (ESL) of "spitting in the face of football lovers" and slammed the "snakes" at its centre, as he dismissed the plan to launch a rival to the Champions League as "disgraceful and self-serving."
Ceferin, who has overseen the remodelling of the Champions League from 32 teams to 36, starting in 2024-25, spoke publicly for the first time since the ESL unveiled their blueprint for a new competition Sunday.
The initiative has been condemned by fans, football organisations and national leaders, with UEFA and FIFA strongly opposed to the attempt of the game's biggest clubs to form their own league.
Speaking during a Zoom media conference in Switzerland, Ceferin condemned Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli and Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who helped organise the ESL and resigned from their roles in the European Club Association, the body that brings together 246 major clubs.
"I cannot stress more strongly at the moment that UEFA and the football world stand together alongside this disgraceful, self-serving project from a select few clubs in Europe fuelled by greed above all else," Ceferin said. "This idea is a spit in the face of all football lovers and our society as well. We must not let them take [football] away from us. I have seen many things in my life, I was a criminal lawyer for 24 years. I've seen many people. I've never seen anyone like that.
"If I start with Ed Woodward, but he called me last Thursday, saying that he's very satisfied with reforms and he fully supports them. Obviously he already signed something else.
"[Agnelli is] probably the biggest disappointment of all. I don't want to be too personal, but I have never seen a person who lied so many times as persistently as he did. I spoke to him on Saturday and he said these were only rumours, nothing going on. Then he turned off the phone. Greediness is so strong that all the human values evaporate. It's always good to know in life, who is who."
Ceferin confirmed that any players who played in the ESL would be banned from participating in future international tournaments, including the World Cup.
"The players who will play in teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from playing in World Cup and Euros," Ceferin said. "They could not represent national team in any matches."
"We didn't know we had snakes working close to us, but now we know," Ceferin added. "Super League is only about money, money of the dozen, I don't want to call them dirty dozen, but UEFA is about developing football, and about financing what should be financed, that our football, our culture survives, and some people don't understand it.
"We have the English FA, Spanish Federation, Italian Federation, the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and FIFA, unanimous in opposition to these cynical plans which are completely against what football should be. We are all united against this nonsense of a project."