Diego Simeone believes LaLiga's engrossing four-way title race is good for Spanish football and insists leaders Atletico Madrid are only focusing on themselves following Barcelona's slip-up.

Barca missed the chance to go top of LaLiga on Thursday as they slipped to a stunning 2-1 home defeat against Granada, with coach Ronald Koeman sent off prior to Jorge Molina's 79th-minute winner.

It means Atletico lead Real Madrid and Barca by two points, with Sevilla just a point further back with five games to play.

Atletico visit Elche on Saturday prior to Madrid's clash with Osasuna. Barca face Valencia at Mestalla on Sunday and Sevilla host Athletic Bilbao on Monday.

But Simeone is solely concentrated on what his side do, rather than the fortunes of others in a title race that is a welcome tonic to the Barca-Madrid duopoly that has long since dominated LaLiga.

"It is novel and does good to Spanish football," Simeone told a pre-match media conference of the four-team battle.

"The possibility that several teams can win is good. We are in a four-way fight in which match by match takes on a more important value.

"With four teams so tight I can only think about the next game. Trust the players who have been having a very good season."

Asked about Barca's defeat, Koeman replied: "I saw the end of the match. A competitive match. But I was only thinking about the only thing that matters to us, which is Elche. A team that has changed and competes very well since [head coach Fran] Escriba's arrival.

"The pressure is always there. If you play second and the rivals have won, you have pressure, but if you play before you also have it. You have to focus on what depends on you and nothing else."

If LaLiga's title race wasn't tantalising enough already, Barcelona's shock defeat to Granada on Thursday really threw a spanner in the works.

It looks set to be the most gripping end to any of the top five European leagues this term, and almost certainly the least predictable finish to LaLiga since 2006-07.

Back then there were three teams in with a chance of taking home the title on the final day of the season – Real Madrid and Barcelona, of course, plus Juande Ramos' Sevilla.

As it was, Madrid and Barca won on the last day whereas Sevilla – who needed a win and for the other two to lose – lost at home to Villarreal.

Madrid finished top by virtue of a better head-to-head record over Barca, who were essentially denied the title by their local rivals Espanyol, slumping to a 2-2 draw with them on the penultimate day to hand Los Blancos the initiative.

For the first time since then, Sevilla are again in with a shout of upsetting established order, though on this occasion Atletico Madrid are in the mix as well.

In fact, with just three points separating first from fourth with five games left, it's the closest title race LaLiga has ever seen in a 20-team campaign (1987-1995, 1997-present).

Diego Simeone's side looked certainties for the title not too long ago: at the start of February, they were 11 points clear, but they've won only six of their 14 league games since, including a defeat to Sevilla in early April.

Yet, remarkably, it's still in Atletico's hands thanks to Barca's surprise loss at home to Granada on Thursday.

 

What made that defeat even more incredible was the fact Granada had just 18 per cent of the ball and scored twice from an xG (expected goals) value of just 0.69. This means they netted more than two times as many as they should have, which speaks to how stunningly clinical they were.

Interestingly – or, infuriatingly, if you're a fan – it was Barcelona's second-highest share of the ball in a league game this season, behind only 82.1 per cent against Cadiz. They lost both games.

It's all shaping up for potentially decisive blows to be struck across May 8 and 9, when the top four all play each other – Barca host Atletico on the Saturday, with Sevilla going to Madrid the next day.

But what does our prediction model say about the most likely outcome in the title race?

How does the predictor work?

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality. Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly. All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table…

 

Atletico take the crown

There we have it… The AI predictor still sees Atletico as the likely champions, with a 38 per cent probability.

It essentially looks like it will come down to their showdown with Barca next Saturday. Atletico hold a slight advantage having beaten Barcelona 1-0 in Madrid earlier this season, and our predictor seemingly doesn't expect Ronald Koeman's men to overturn that at Camp Nou, as the model sees Atletico winning the title by virtue of their head-to-head record.

Nevertheless, Barcelona's outlook is almost identical to just a few weeks ago when the data suggested they had a 32.8 per cent chance, that now dropping ever so slightly to 32.6 – but you can't help but wonder what it would have been had they beaten Granada.

Madrid have drawn two of their previous three games 0-0, and so their chances have dropped from 34.4 per cent to a 26.6 per cent likelihood of winning the title.

Sevilla, perhaps unsurprisingly, remain the outsiders and our prediction model still only gives them a 2.8 per cent probability of winning their first league title since 1946.

However, that's 28 times more likely than just 18 days ago when the data gave them a 0.1 per cent chance of finishing top.

Everything seemingly hinges on next weekend…

Neymar's future at Paris Saint-Germain remains strangely undecided.

The 29-year-old Brazilian has said he is happy in Paris but speculation continues to bubble away.

Neymar is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly discussing a renewal with PSG until 2026.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR TEMPTED BY BARCELONA RETURN

Neymar continues to flirt privately with a return to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Publicly, the Brazil star has declared he is happy with PSG but in no rush to re-sign, yet there are behind-the-scenes rumblings, potentially part of contract manoeuvring.

Neymar is reportedly obsessed with playing alongside Lionel Messi again at Camp Nou and continues to keep that option open.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are still in the market for a right-winger with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho top of their list, according to 90 Min.

- The Sun reports that Chelsea are preparing to launch a £90million-plus offer to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the club from Inter.

- Chelsea are also open to offers for forward Tammy Abraham this off-season, with an asking price of £40m, claims The Telegraph.

- Arsenal wants to sign Norwich City full-back Max Aarons as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, whom they are prepared to offload, reports 90 Min.

- Juventus' Turkish defender Merih Demiral is in the sights of Everton, according to Calciomercato.

- AS claims that Atletico Madrid may ask Juventus to swap Paulo Dybala as compensation to permanently sign on-loan forward Alvaro Morata.

Does a Premier League switch beckon for Raphael Varane?

Varane has starred for Real Madrid, winning LaLiga and Champions League titles.

But Varane could be sacrificed in the Spanish capital, with Chelsea reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS FOR VARANE

Chelsea are ahead of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Varane has been linked with a move away from Madrid, who are looking to raise funds as they target PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

United have reportedly emerged as strong suitors but Chelsea are believed to be at the front of the queue to land the France international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal, Sport1 and other outlets report Bayern Munich have opened talks with RB Leipzig to hire head coach Julian Nagelsmann. With Hansi Flick set to depart at season's end, Nagelsmann is wanted in Munich.

Jose Mourinho is ready to return to Inter should Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte exit, claims Calciomercato. Conte is poised to lead Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10, when Mourinho oversaw a treble, but the former Italy coach's future is far from certain. Mourinho is available after he was sacked by Tottenham.

- According to Gol Digital, Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

Roma are targeting Maurizio Sarri as their next head coach, says Corriere dello Sport. Paulo Fonseca is currently at the helm but he is under pressure in the Italian capital. Roma have reportedly already met with ex-Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli coach Sarri to discuss finer details.

Milan have given star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma one month to decide on a contract extension, reports Tuttosport. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign. The likes of United, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG and Madrid have been linked. Milan are reportedly eyeing Lille's Mike Maignan as a possible replacement.

- Bild claims Arsenal are lining up a move for Dortmund's Julian Brandt as a replacement for loanee Martin Odegaard, who is attracting interest from elsewhere. Brandt could be one of many Dortmund players to leave in the off-season as clubs circle Haaland, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, United, Chelsea, PSG and Bayern.

Ronald Koeman promised Barcelona would "go with everything we have" to secure the LaLiga title on an evening when Atletico Madrid faltered again.

The trophy, and a domestic double, looked unlikely prospects as Barcelona stumbled through the opening months of the season.

Yet they will head into May with the Copa del Rey locked away in the trophy room and league glory could follow.

Long-time leaders Atletico have struggled without former Barcelona frontman Luis Suarez recently, and although he came off the bench in Sunday's clash with Athletic Bilbao, Diego Simeone's wobbling side suffered a 2-1 defeat.

It means that although Atletico still hold a two-point lead at the top, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the closest chasing sides, level on 71 points. Importantly, Barca have a game in hand over both their rivals.

The Camp Nou club's 2-1 win over Villarreal strengthened their championship case, with Real Madrid only able to draw 0-0 with Real Betis on Saturday.

Asked about the prospect of a league and cup double, Koeman said on Sunday: "I have never said that it is impossible, but when you have a distance of points and you are behind, you have to go game by game.

"We're in there. But the best way to win this league is to go game by game."

Speaking after Barcelona's win but before Atletico fell to their jolting defeat, Koeman praised his side, who have now gathered 46 points from a possible 51 since the turn of the year in LaLiga.

Of their last 24 clashes with Villarreal in LaLiga, Barca have won 18 times and drawn the other six, a staggeringly good record against one of Spain's better club sides.

"It is closer, but I don't know if it is very close," Koeman said of the title. "We have a track record of many victories. And what the team are doing is something very big, trying to win LaLiga as well.

"We know that if we win all six games we will be champions. We are going to go with everything we have to try to win LaLiga."

Atletico have lost two of their last five LaLiga games, showing fallibility at just the wrong time. They had previously lost just two of 44 league matches, including a strong finish to last season.

A Camp Nou clash between Atletico and Barcelona on May 8 is the standout fixture of the title run-in, and momentum can quickly turn.

Before that, Barca have games against Granada on Thursday and at Valencia on Sunday.

Koeman said it is "difficult to be 100 per cent" when games are coming so thick and fast.

But having come so far, making up so much ground when at one point qualifying for the Champions League looked to be in doubt, Barcelona are determined not to slow down.

As goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen put it on Instagram: "6 finals to go. We must be ready for Thursday."

Diego Simeone took a share of the blame for a 2-1 defeat at Athletic Bilbao and reiterated Atletico Madrid must show they have the "mental strength" to be crowned LaLiga champions.

Atleti's title hopes suffered a blow at San Mames on Sunday as Inigo Martinez's header four minutes from time consigned the leaders to what could be a costly loss.

Stefan Savic had equalised after 77 minutes, netting his first goal in the Spanish top flight for almost four years, after Alex Berenguer gave Athletic an early lead.

Martinez had the final say, though, nodding in a corner after being left unmarked to leave Atleti just two points ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Ronald Koeman's men able to take over at the summit if they win their game in hand.

Simeone says his side must show they have the right mindset to win the title.

Asked if Atleti were feeling the pressure, he said: "The Spanish championship is usually won by Barcelona and Real Madrid, except in 2014 or another year when we were close.

"For much of the season we had an advantage of many points, but we understood that Barcelona and Madrid were not going to get out of the title dispute. Sevilla also appeared.

"Whoever has more mental strength will be closer to winning."

Simeone brought on the fit-again Luis Suarez, Joao Felix and Thomas Lemar just before the hour mark, with Atleti looking short of ideas.

Former Argentina midfielder Simeone took some responsibility for a flat first-half performance.

"It is clear that if this is repeated it is more of a problem for the coach than for the team," Simeone said. "When a coach does not solve that situation, he is doing something wrong. We will try to improve."

Barca won 2-1 at Villarreal earlier in the day, following defending champions Real Madrid's goalless draw with Real Betis on Saturday.

Inigo Martinez's late header struck a blow to Atletico Madrid's LaLiga title hopes as Athletic Bilbao secured a 2-1 victory on Sunday.

Stefan Savic looked to have rescued a point for the leaders with his first goal in the Spanish top flight for almost four years 13 minute from time after Alex Berenguer had opened the scoring with an early header at San Mames.

Athletic were not to be denied victory, though, as Martinez rose to nod home four minutes from time and leave Diego Simeone's side shellshocked.

The setback means Atletico are just two points clear of Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Ronald Koeman's side having a game in hand, while Sevilla are also within three points.

Diego Simeone warned Atletico Madrid must not relax in a "complex" LaLiga race after a 2-0 win over Huesca moved them back to the top of the table.

Angel Correa's deflected first-half strike and a Yannick Carrasco goal 10 minutes from time at the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday sent Atleti three points clear of Real Madrid at the summit.

Atleti thrashed Eibar 5-0 last weekend after picking up only one point from the previous two games against Sevilla and Real Betis.

Simeone knows there can be no let-up from his side in the battle to be crowned champions, with six games to go including a trip to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Real Madrid's 3-0 win over Cadiz on Wednesday had temporarily nudged Atletico down to second place.

Atletico boss Simeone said: "LaLiga is very complex, we cannot relax, tomorrow we will take care of the Bilbao game."

He added: "There are four teams close to being able to close a great season, Sevilla are doing well, Madrid responded well yesterday and Barcelona are playing now.

"We are to think game by game and we are not going to change now. We think about the next game and we will try to move it forward."

Barcelona won 5-2 against Getafe in Spain's late match on Thursday, after Simeone held his post-game news conference, and Ronald Koeman's side remain very much in the title frame, with a game in hand and a home fixture against Atletico to come next month.

Simeone praised his players for the way they have reacted to slipping up against Sevilla and Betis.

"After Betis I said that the team was in a moment of resistance and is growing after that game," said the former Argentina midfielder.

Simeone reiterated that Atletico's withdrawal from a proposed European Super League was the right decision.

"The day before the decision was made, they already told us what was going to be discussed, it seems like a great decision to me." he said.

Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco were on target as Atletico Madrid returned to the top of LaLiga with a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Huesca.

Correa struck twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Eibar on Sunday and he opened the scoring at the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday with a deflected strike.

Carrasco eased the nerves with a second goal - his third in as many matches - 10 minutes from time to put Atleti three points clear of Real Madrid with six games to go.

Diego Simeone's Atletico side ought to have won by a more emphatic margin a day after they confirmed their withdrawal from the collapsed European Super League.

Yet Dimitrios Siovas should have given Huesca a shock third-minute lead when he shot straight at Jan Oblak from close range after Atleti failed to deal with a free-kick from the left.

Alvaro Fernandez produced a sharp double save at the other end to deny Carrasco and Saul Niguez, and then Correa opened the scoring six minutes before the break.

The in-form forward turned sharply after taking a pass from Marcos Llorente and beat Pablo Insua before finding the back of the net with a deflected left-footed strike.

Atleti picked up where they left off following the interval, with Fernandez making himself big to keep out Koke's effort from close range.

The busy Huesca goalkeeper was called into action again to palm Renan Lodi's drive away for a corner as Simeone's men continued to dominate.

Sergio Gomez came agonisingly close to equalising when his free-kick flashed wide of the post before Fernandez beat away another effort from Niguez.

Carrasco gave Atleti breathing space, tapping in after Llorente unselfishly squared the ball as Huesca appealed for offside. The goal was awarded following a VAR check.

Dani Escriche should have pulled a goal back in the closing stages when he stabbed wide from point-blank range, as Huesca's survival hopes suffered a blow.

Manchester United co-chairman and part-owner Joel Glazer has issued an apology to fans for the "unrest" caused by their European Super League misadventure.

United were one of 12 founding clubs for the close-shop competition announced on Sunday, but more than that they had frequently been cited as among the biggest pushers for a new tournament to rival UEFA's Champions League.

Super League involvement would have seen United – along with the other founder clubs – guaranteed participation every year, thus threatening the ideals of competitiveness and sporting merit.

Much of the significant backlash, which United players Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw were a part of, related to this lack of competition, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola suggesting it could not be considered sport.

But less than 48 hours after the plans were announced, the proposed tournament began to crumble as the English clubs withdrew – United confirmed their disassociation at the same time as Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, with City doing so earlier in the day and Chelsea following.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward also confirmed his resignation, which the club claimed was unrelated to the defeat of the Super League plans.

Criticism was directed at United for their brief statement upon withdrawal as well, though Glazer – co-owner with his brother Avram – says he is "committed to rebuilding trust" in a lengthier open letter.

United supporters will surely argue there was never trust in the deeply unpopular Glazers in the first place, with the letter representing the family's first communication with the fanbase since 2005.

It read: "To all Manchester United supporters, over the past few days we have all witnessed the great passion which football generates, and the deep loyalty our fans have for this great club.

"You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.

"Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.

"We continue to believe that European football needs to become more sustainable throughout the pyramid for the long-term. However, we fully accept that the Super League was not the right way to go about it.

"In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions –promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry.

"This is the world's greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days. It is important for us to put that right.

"Manchester United has a rich heritage and we recognise our responsibility to live up to its great traditions and values. The pandemic has thrown up so many unique challenges and we are proud of the way Manchester United and its fans from Manchester and around the world have reacted to the enormous pressures during this period.

"We also realise that we need to better communicate with you, our fans, because you will always be at the heart of the club. In the background, you can be sure that we will be taking the necessary steps to rebuild relationships with other stakeholders across the game, with a view to working together on solutions to the long-term challenges facing the football pyramid.

"Right now, our priority is to continue to support all of our teams as they push for the strongest possible finish to the season. In closing, I would like to recognise that it is your support which makes this club so great, and we thank you for that. With best regards, Joel Glazer."

The Atletico Madrid players have released a statement to "convey our satisfaction" after the club withdrew from the European Super League.

Atletico were among 12 clubs who announced plans for the controversial new competition on Sunday.

But the tournament – a rival to the Champions League but with guaranteed participation for its founding members – quickly came under scrutiny.

Anger from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media soon prompted England's 'big six' to back out. Atleti followed, along with Inter and Milan.

Koke, the Atleti captain, posted on his Twitter page on Wednesday: "From the Atletico Madrid squad, we want to convey our satisfaction about the final decision to renounce the Super League project made by our club.

"We will continue fighting to help Atleti grow from our position through the values of effort and sporting merit that have always characterised us, so that all of you continue to see yourself reflected in those signs of identity.

"We continue to work hard, focused on the game tomorrow."

Speaking before Thursday's LaLiga clash with Huesca, Atleti coach Diego Simeone had earlier backed the club both in their decision to pursue the Super League and then to step back.

"I understood that the club was going to decide what was best for the club," he said. "The club has looked at our fans, employees, players, president – the Atletico family."

Simeone added: "We understand that this situation [the withdrawal] is good for everyone. We all belong to football – before being footballers and coaches, we are fans."

Juventus remain convinced over the validity of a European Super League but admit the planned breakaway competition cannot possibly go ahead following a raft of withdrawals.

Milan followed Serie A rivals Inter in pulling out on Wednesday, as did Spanish side Atletico Madrid in a move welcomed by head coach Diego Simeone.

All six English teams – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – ended their involvement on Tuesday following widespread criticism of the proposal, including from some of their own players and coaches.

Juve president Andrea Agnelli confirmed to Reuters that the mass exodus of the Premier League contingent had effectively ended the possibility of a Super League going ahead – for now at least.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Bianconeri made clear the necessary procedures required for clubs to end their involvement have yet to be completed, as well as outlining how such a tournament still has merit from a sporting and commercial viewpoint.

"With reference to the press release issued by Juventus on April 19, relating to the project to create the Super League, and the subsequent public debate, the issuer specifies that it is aware of the request and intentions otherwise expressed by some clubs to withdraw from this project, although the necessary procedures under the agreement between the clubs have not been completed," a statement read.

"In this context, Juventus, while remaining convinced of the validity of the sporting, commercial and legal assumptions of the project, believes that it currently has limited possibilities of being completed in the form in which it was initially conceived.

"Juventus remains committed to building long-term value for the club and for the entire football movement."

Milan's U-turn came after taking into consideration the reaction from supporters to the tournament. The founding members would have been involved each season regardless of their performances in domestic leagues, a rule that received widespread condemnation.

"We accepted the invitation to participate in the Super League project with the genuine intention to deliver the best possible European competition for football fans around the world and in the best interest of the club and our own fans," Milan said in a statement.

"Change is not always easy, but evolution is necessary for progress, and the structures of European football have evolved and changed over the decades.

"However, the voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed about the Super League, and Milan must be sensitive to the voice of those who love this wonderful sport.

"We will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model for football."

Diego Simeone was not prepared to criticise Atletico Madrid chiefs nor the premise of the European Super League following the proposed competition's collapse but backed the decision to withdraw.

Atletico were one of the 12 founding clubs to initially sign up for the tournament, which was announced on Sunday, but their plans crumbled within 48 hours.

The backlash was significant on Monday and then Tuesday proved pivotal, as English clubs took note of the passionate response from fans, media, players and coaches.

Manchester City became the first to withdraw, followed by Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. Atletico, Inter and Milan followed on Wednesday

Atletico boss Simeone did not take the opportunity to openly criticise the plans during a press conference on the eve of Thursday's LaLiga clash with Huesca, as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola did in previous days, but accepted it was the right decision.

Speaking of his talks with Atletico CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin, Simeone said: "Going into what he told us is not appropriate, but we saw doubts about this situation and what happened later, last night, when the clubs began to leave the Super League.

"I was told after the last game, I understood that the club was going to decide what was best for the club. The club has looked at our fans, employees, players, president – the Atletico family."

When pressed for his own opinion, Simeone added: "Listen to what I said before. I was clear, concrete and true. There is nothing to hide.

"I was one of the first to be consulted after the match and I said that I absolutely trusted the club because they were going to do what was best for the club. We understand that this situation [the withdrawal] is good for everyone. We all belong to football – before being footballers and coaches, we are fans.

"They have known me for a long time, I do not like demagoguery or taking advantage of situations to strengthen myself.

"What I think, I tell the people I have to talk to. I do not like to express myself here."

Simeone still expects the events of the past few days to contribute to significant change in European football.

"Faced with seismic movements like this, something is going to change, for sure, I have no doubt," he said. "And for the better, don't get me wrong.

"When there are movements, the parties will have to get closer and find what everyone wants or wanted before."

"Profit-driven" projects like the European Super League threaten the existing structure and mission of sport, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

Bach appeared at the UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland on Tuesday.

The furore caused by 12 of Europe's leading clubs announcing a breakaway competition that would see them leave existing structures in place under UEFA and FIFA continues to cause intense debate.

Bach warned that self-interest and commercialism would come at a huge cost for European sport.

He insisted such an approach was not what was needed as society rebuilds as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have to realise that this European sport model is under threat today," Bach said. 

"In fact, the very existence of the values, solidarity and volunteer-based model is under threat. 

"It is challenged by a purely profit-driven approach that ignores the intrinsic values the social mission of sport and the real needs of the post-coronavirus world. 

"It is under threat because the social mission of sports organisations is losing ground to the purely profit-oriented goals of commercial sport providers and investors. 

"If everything is only looked at from a business perspective. If only the economic rules are applied to measure the impact of sport on society then the social mission of sport is lost.

"In this polarising environment narrow self-interest and egotism have been gaining ground over solidarity, shared values and common rules. 

"We can only address the challenges of the post-coronavirus world in solidarity. This means for us solidarity within sports organisations and solidarity among sports organisations."

At the same conference, FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the European Super League.

Infantino warned clubs involved they "cannot be half in or half out" and must fully commit to the breakaway competition.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the European Super League as he warned clubs involved they "cannot be half in or half out" and must fully commit to the breakaway competition.

Twelve elite clubs announced on Sunday their plans to launch a tournament to rival the Champions League in which they would be assured of qualification.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, among others, would compete in the Super League every season without risk of demotion.

The news has prompted a strong reaction throughout the football world, with governing bodies, rivals clubs, players, coaches and fans critical of the idea and its anti-competitive format.

An initial FIFA statement on Sunday read: "FIFA can only express its disapproval to a 'closed European breakaway league' outside of the international football structures."

Infantino, FIFA president since 2016, had not subsequently discussed the Super League in public until Tuesday's UEFA Congress, however.

But he made clear in Montreux, Switzerland, that the clubs involved could not continue in their domestic leagues, as proposed, while bans from international football for players at those clubs have been threatened.

"At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA," Infantino said.

"There is a lot to throw away for maybe a short-term financial gain of some. People need to think very carefully. They need to reflect and they need to assume responsibility.

"If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice. They are responsible for their choice.

"Concretely, this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in or half out."

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