Juventus chairman and vice-chairman of the proposed European Super League Andrea Agnelli insists the attempted breakaway from UEFA was a "desperate cry for help" rather than a "coup".

Agnelli previously served as an executive and chairman of the European Club Association, an independent body that represents football clubs at a continental level, acting as a "voice" for teams and key stakeholder in the landscape of the game internationally.

But the 45-year-old stepped down from the ECA in April as he officially became a key figure for the Super League, a breakaway, closed-shop competition that threatened the competitive nature of European football.

Juve were one of 12 clubs to be announced as founding members of the league, but a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of all six English clubs involved, followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan.

Juve, Real Madrid and Barcelona have stood firm and affirmed their commitment to radical change, a stance that has subsequently seen UEFA open disciplinary proceedings against all three.

Agnelli addressed the media on Friday in a news conference arranged to bid farewell to sporting director Fabio Paratici, who is reportedly close to joining Tottenham, and the Juve chief again stressed the need for reform.

"For years I have tried to change European competitions from the inside, because the signs of crisis were evident even before the pandemic," he told reporters.

"The Super League is not a coup, but a desperate cry of help for a system that, knowingly or not, is heading towards insolvency.

"The agreement between the founders [of the Super League] was conditional on UEFA's prior recognition of the competition. The response was deafening, with offensive terms and arrogant methods, and then it turned to three clubs.

"It is not with this type of behaviour that football is reformed in the face of this crisis. Fortunately, I know that not everyone in UEFA feels the same way. The desire for dialogue, however, remains unchanged.

"Other sports have faced changes of this type, and almost all stakeholders agree that the model needs to be changed.

"Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are determined to achieve a complete reform of the competitions, and above all, in the interest of the clubs that show us fear for this situation."

UEFA has begun disciplinary proceedings against European giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus over their role in the collapsed Super League.

The announcement from European football's governing body could result in heavy punishments for Spanish titans Barca and Madrid and Italian heavyweights Juventus.

UEFA said in a statement: "Following an investigation conducted by UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspectors in connection with the so-called 'Super League' project, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Juventus FC for a potential violation of UEFA's legal framework.

"Further information will be made available in due course."

Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli has been seen as a driving force behind the organisation of the tournament, which was announced on April 18 but fell apart just 48 hours later when the six English teams that had entered all withdrew.

The proposed competition guaranteed participation for the 12 founding teams.

But the anti-competitive tournament prompted outrage around the football world, and pressure from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media soon told.

Once the Premier League clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea – pulled out, it was clear the project would not be viable.

Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid soon followed.

However, there has been reluctance from Juve, Barca and Madrid to let the Super League die.

Amid urging from UEFA and others to back away from the project, those clubs collaborated on May 8 to defend their actions.

The three clubs stated: "The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offences to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.

"This is intolerable under the rule of law and tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending."

They stressed that "structural reforms are vital to ensure our sport remains appealing and survives in the long-term."

Madrid, Barca and Juve claim the Super League provided "a unique opportunity to offer fans around the world the best possible show and to reinforce global interest in the sport".

UEFA has begun disciplinary proceedings against European giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus over their role in the collapsed Super League.

The announcement from European football's governing body could result in heavy punishments for Spanish titans Barca and Madrid and Italian heavyweights Juventus.

UEFA said in a statement: "Following an investigation conducted by UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspectors in connection with the so-called 'Super League' project, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Juventus FC for a potential violation of UEFA's legal framework.

"Further information will be made available in due course."

Porto will host the Champions League final on May 29, with UEFA confirming the clash between Premier League sides Manchester City and Chelsea has been moved from Istanbul.

The Turkish city had been slated to host the 2020 final, before the coronavirus pandemic led to the closing stages of the tournament being moved to Lisbon and played as one-off matches last August.

Rising COVID-19 cases in Istanbul mean UEFA has again looked to Portugal, with Estadio do Dragao now the host venue for the meeting between newly-crowned English champions City and FA Cup finalists Chelsea, who are in the European showpiece for a third time.

Turkey was placed on the UK government's travel 'red list' last week, making the Ataturk Stadium an impractical venue, with fans told they should not be travelling to such destinations and players and staff would have had to isolate in a government-approved hotel upon their return.

Euro 2020 and the Copa America each starting on June 11 would have made that element particularly problematic.

UEFA on Thursday announced the change of venue and revealed both clubs will be given 6,000 tickets for the showpiece and they will be on sale immediately.

Portugal is on the UK's 'green list', meaning there will be no need for fans or players to quarantine afterwards.

UEFA discussed moving the match to England but it was not possible to achieve the necessary exemptions from UK quarantine arrangements.

Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president, said: “I think we can all agree that we hope never to experience a year like the one we have just endured.

"Fans have had to suffer more than twelve months without the ability to see their teams live and reaching a Champions League final is the pinnacle of club football.  To deprive those supporters of the chance to see the match in person was not an option and I am delighted that this compromise has been found.

"After the year that fans have endured, it is not right that they don't have the chance to watch their teams in the biggest game of the season.

"Once again we have turned to our friends in Portugal to help both UEFA and the Champions League and I am, as always, very grateful to the FPF and the Portuguese Government for agreeing to stage the match at such short notice.

"They have worked tirelessly in very tight time constraints in finding solutions for the many challenges that hosting a game of this magnitude presents.  Whenever there has been an obstacle, they have been creative in the solutions presented and the success of staging this year’s final is entirely down to their hard work and persistence.

"We accept that the decision of the British Government to place Turkey on the red list for travel was taken in good faith and in the best interests of protecting its citizens from the spread of the virus but it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams.

"The difficulties of moving the final are great and the FA and the authorities made every effort to try to stage the match in England and I would like to thank them for their work in trying to make it happen.

"The Turkish football federation and the Turkish authorities have recognised the UEFA's efforts to give fans of the competing clubs a chance to watch the game.

"The Turkish Football Federation and the authorities have always been reliable partners of UEFA and Turkey has hosted many UEFA events over the years with great success. I hope to be in Istanbul and Turkey for a Champions League final and many other events in the near future.

"I hope the final will be a symbol of hope at the re-emergence of Europe from a difficult period and that the fans who travel to the game will once again be able to lend their voices to showcase this final as the best in club football.."

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have described warnings from UEFA as "intolerable" and "unacceptable" as the three clubs continue to back a breakaway European Super League.

Spain's biggest two clubs and Italian outfit Juve are the only three remaining of the 12 European giants who signed up for the controversial project, with all others having withdrawn just days after the competition was announced last month.

UEFA on Friday stated that Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid would not face Champions League or Europa League bans after pulling out of the proposed Super League.

The governing body warned that the three remaining rebel clubs could be sanctioned due to their unwavering stance.

UEFA stated: "UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called 'Super League'. The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies."

Barca, Madrid and Juve released a joint statement on Saturday to make it clear they are not happy with UEFA's actions.

The statement said: "The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.

"This is intolerable under the rule of law and tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending."

The three clubs defended the Super League proposal by stating that "structural reforms are vital to ensure our sport remains appealing and survives in the long-term".

They added that the founding clubs agreed that the new competition would only take place if it was "recognised by UEFA and/or FIFA or if, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, it was deemed to be a competition duly compatible for all purposes with the continuity of the founding clubs in their respective domestic competitions".

Juve, Barca and Madrid claim the Super League provided "a unique opportunity to offer fans around the world the best possible show and to reinforce global interest in the sport".

The trio of clubs say they are "ready to reconsider the proposed approach" but it would be "highly irresponsible" if they abandoned a mission to "provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry".

UEFA has confirmed that teams competing in this year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament will be allowed to select a 26-man squad instead of the usual 23.

The change has been rolled out to ease the burden on players following a compressed club season and to help national teams in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

UEFA's executive committee approved the proposal on Tuesday and announced teams can make unlimited changes to their squad up until their first game in the event of a serious injury or illness.

The new regulations will also allow goalkeepers to be replaced before each match "in case of physical incapacity", even if two other keepers from the initial list are still available.

However, while teams can now name 26-man squads, only 23 of those can be selected per matchday.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez and Italy's Roberto Mancini are among those to have called for squad sizes to be increased.

UEFA confirmed in March that teams can make five substitutions per match, rather than the usual three.

The tournament, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, begins on June 11 in Rome and is set to conclude with the final at Wembley on July 11.

Manchester United have exposed the stark levels of abuse aimed at their players ahead of a four-day social media boycott.

Football clubs and players all over England will be joined in the action, which runs from 1500 BST on Friday until 2359 BST on Monday, by UEFA and major bodies across cricket, rugby union, tennis, rugby league and other sports.

The move follows an increase in online abuse aimed at sportspeople, with United's research offering a glimpse at how bad the problem is.

United revealed a 350 per cent increase in abuse directed towards their players since September 2019, with 86 per cent of 3,300 abusive posts categorised as being racist in nature.

A further eight per cent were deemed homophobic or transphobic.

"It must be said that while these numbers are shocking, they do only represent a 0.01 per cent of conversations that take place on social media about the club and the players," said group managing director Richard Arnold.

"By taking part in this boycott this weekend, we, alongside the rest of English football, want to shine a light on the issue. It will generate debate and discussion and will raise awareness of the levels of abuse our players and our fans receive."

An announcement of the boycott came jointly last Saturday from numerous organisations in football, including the Premier League, the English Football League, the Football Association, the Professional Footballers' Association, the Women’s Super League and the Women’s Championship.

"While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms," the groups said in a release.

"Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight."

Since that statement was released, other bodies have declared they will join the boycott from across various sports, with cycling, horseracing and hockey also on board.

Football's European governing body, UEFA, also pledged its support in a strongly worded statement from president Aleksander Ceferin on Thursday.

"We've had enough of these cowards who hide behind their anonymity to spew out their noxious ideologies," he said.

The move instigated by England's footballing bodies follows them sending a letter to social media companies in February, urging them to take numerous steps to take down online abuse, including quick removal of offensive posts and an improved verification process.

Some within the game have already taken individual action to protest, with Thierry Henry withdrawing from all social media platforms until the issue is appropriately addressed.

Henry's stance came after a spate of incidents of vile abuse being aimed at sportspeople online.

Chelsea put out a statement in January after Reece James was targeted, saying: "Something needs to change and it needs to change now."

Manchester United duo Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were also racially abused online after the side's loss to Sheffield United, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calling for stronger intervention from social media platforms.

Andrea Pirlo came out bullish when asked about the European Super League, insisting that Juventus are not scared of possible UEFA sanctions.

Juve were one of 12 leading European clubs to announce their intention to form a breakaway, closed-shop competition.

The news caused anger and furore across the continent, with all six English clubs involved electing to withdraw on Tuesday amid mounting pressure from fans, the media, politicians and governing bodies.

Despite the majority of the 12 clubs having pulled out, Juve – whose chairman Andrea Agnelli was one of the major players in the proposals – have not yet done so, while Barcelona and Real Madrid have also stayed in.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has been on the defensive all week, and as recently as Saturday told AS that the Super League teams were giving themselves time to reflect on the proposal.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has again reiterated that if Juve, Barca and Madrid fail to withdraw, then they could face suspension from the Champions League.

However, when asked if Juve were afraid of UEFA's threats, Pirlo – who was previewing Sunday's Serie A meeting with Fiorentina – replied: "We are not scared, we are comfortable that we can end the season pursuing our own objectives. We are okay regardless of the decisions UEFA will make."

Of Agnelli, Pirlo added: "I saw him as being serene. I believe it is normal many people talk about him, but he knows what he has to do and always encourages the team when he visits us during the training sessions. 

"The environment now is positive. We want to finish the season in the best way. After losing the title and the Champions League, our main target is to get a spot in Champions League.

"This is a must. We must be calm, but we must be fully focused for our ultimate objective."

One player certain to be crucial to Juve securing Champions League football is Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 36-year-old has scored 25 times in Serie A this term, while he has netted three goals against Fiorentina during his time with Juve – all of them coming from the spot.

"For me this is the first year [managing Ronaldo], I have a great relationship with him," Pirlo said when asked if it was difficult to handle Ronaldo's ego.

"He is a player who always wants to do well, he gets angry even when he loses minor games.

"When someone always wants to be at his best, I believe it is normal to have these kinds of attitudes. He always wants to win and is keen to help the team at all the time. This is a very positive side of him."

UEFA has announced that Euro 2020 matches originally scheduled to be held in Bilbao and Dublin will be moved to new venues.

While Munich was ratified as a host venue for the tournament after confirming it would be able to permit 14,500 spectators for its games, Bilbao and Dublin could make no such guarantees.

Following discussions with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), the three Group E games and a round-of-16 match due to take place in Bilbao will instead be staged at Estadio La Cartuja in Seville with the intention of allowing 30 per cent capacity.

Meanwhile, Dublin's three Group E matches have been reallocated to St Petersburg, which is already hosting three Group B games and a quarter-final, while the round-of-16 contest that was set take place in the Irish capital will now be held at Wembley.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: "We have been working diligently with the host associations and local authorities to ensure a safe and festive environment at the games and I am really pleased that we are able to welcome spectators at all matches for a celebration of national team football across the continent.

"UEFA wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to the cities of Bilbao and Dublin – both of which are considered as good venues to host future UEFA events – the national and regional governments of Spain and the Republic of Ireland, and all local stakeholders for their dedication, professionalism and efforts over the past years.

"UEFA would also like to thank the Football Association of Ireland and its dedicated staff for their excellent collaboration and hard work, and is looking forward to continuing to work with the remaining eleven host associations in delivering UEFA EURO 2020 matches."

Nasser Al-Khelaifi has replaced Andrea Agnelli as chairman of the European Clubs Association (ECA) after the breakdown of the proposed European Super League.

Paris Saint-Germain – for whom Al-Khelaifi is chairman and chief executive – were, along with Bayern Munich, one of the few heavyweight European clubs to elect against joining the planned breakaway competition, which collapsed before it ever got started.

Only Real Madrid and Barcelona are yet to confirm their withdrawal from the now-suspended tournament, after all six English teams involved pulled out on Tuesday, with Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan following suit on Wednesday.

During a remarkable situation which rolled out over Sunday and Monday, Juve chief Agnelli – a major driving force behind the proposals – resigned from his post as the ECA chairman.

With PSG having rebuffed the invitation to join the European Super League, Al-Khelaifi issued a strong statement condemning the actions of the 12 clubs and backing UEFA.

Al-Khelaifi, who has been in charge of PSG since 2011, has now been handed a new role as Agnelli's replacement.

He said: "I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed by my fellow ECA Executive Board Members as chairman.

"The leadership, integrity and togetherness of our organisation has never been more required than at this pivotal moment in European football.

"I will provide my unconditional commitment to the entire football community: that means to all ECA Member Clubs from every European nation, and to the fans and communities they represent.

"I, alongside all my fellow ECA Board Members and Clubs, am looking to reinforce ECA in its role as the legitimate and singular voice of Europe’s clubs. Our game, adored by generations of supporters, will only prosper under unity, and it is our duty as the custodians of football to fulfil this obligation."

The ECA said: "Following the unprecedented events of recent days, which has seen attempts to undermine the entire European football community, ECA – representing the leading football clubs of Europe – welcomes the decision from its former member clubs not to pursue their purported 'Super League' project.

"ECA firmly believes this project could not succeed because football, at its core, is based on openness, sporting excellence and an inherent connection between everyone across the football family.

"Football is for everybody. Recent events have been a reminder that club owners are merely custodians of their clubs, which are historic beacons that mean so much to fans and their communities.

"ECA believes that it is the responsibility of every member club to ensure that we develop football and leave it in a better place for the next generation; not to dismantle it purely for financial gain."

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."

Ronald Koeman does not believe Barcelona's involvement in the collapsed European Super League will have an impact on the title run-in in LaLiga.

Barca were among 12 elite clubs - three of them from Spain - to sign up for the controversial new continental competition over the weekend.

But by Tuesday night, the tournament - a rival to the Champions League - had collapsed after England's 'big six' pulled out and others followed.

The Blaugrana were said to be considering their position ahead of the first U-turn from Manchester City, although no announcement of the Catalan club's withdrawal had followed at Camp Nou by Wednesday when Koeman faced the media.

The head coach was speaking ahead of Thursday's home game against Getafe.

Barca head into the midweek round of fixtures third in LaLiga, five points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and two shy of Real Madrid but with a game in hand over both.

Although Atleti and Madrid were each also part of the Super League plans, it was put to Koeman that his players might be distracted in their pursuit of the championship.

"I don't agree," he replied. "Players want to win titles, I have no doubt about my players. We're going to be fine at tomorrow's game."

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli - a key Super League figure - has accepted defeat in their breakaway bid, but Koeman was reluctant to comment on Barca's status as "no one knows what can happen".

"I spoke to the president yesterday and he explained the club's position," Koeman said.

"There's been so much movement that it's best not to have an opinion. No one knows what can happen and we have to wait. I want what's best for the club.

"I'm not the spokesman, it's the president. My job is to prepare the game. There is so much movement with this topic that we have to wait for how this ends.

"I'm not surprised. We want what's best for the club. If there's anyone who needs to talk about this, it's clearly the president.

"I don't know if they asked the players; I'm not interested. We're playing a game tomorrow."

Even those coaches critical of the Super League - like Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola - have highlighted issues with UEFA, which is pressing ahead with its own expanded Champions League.

Koeman said: "The number of matches is incredible. [The players] have had to play a lot of competitions.

"Everyone is talking about the Super League, the Champions League... but UEFA is not heeding players about the number of matches. All they care about is money.

"In LaLiga, anyway, tomorrow we play at 22:00 [local time]. We have to protect the players."

Getafe won 1-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season but have never done the double over Barca, who have since turned their season around.

Prior to their Clasico defeat last time out in LaLiga, Koeman's side were unbeaten in 19 in the competition. An undefeated run at home stretches back 12 games.

Barca have scored 69 times in the league, their joint-lowest tally through 31 games in the past 13 seasons but also the highest mark in the league this term. Lionel Messi (23) alone has netted more goals than Getafe.

The Blaugrana also bounced back from the loss in Madrid by winning 4-0 against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

"The image of the team the other day in the final was very good, the attitude and the level of play," Koeman added.

"It's not just a title. We've been improving things for a while, and I think, according to a lot of people, they're happy.

"We're working well, but in a club it depends on the results. What we're doing is a big thing."

Manchester City have confirmed their withdrawal from the proposed European Super League, leaving the controversial tournament in tatters within 48 hours of being announced.

Condemnation of the project, which drew the ire of fans, players, coaches, federations and national governments, was near universal following Sunday's rollout, which detailed how the Premier League's 'big six' would be founder members of the Super League alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Inter.

The closed-shop element of the league was noted as being contrary to European football's traditions of fair competition – an observation made by City manager Pep Guardiola on Tuesday, among many others.

Speculation mounted as a dramatic day progressed, with Chelsea also thought to be ready to pull the plug.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward resigned from his post, although the club claim this decision is not directly related to the apparently doomed Super League project.

Stats Perform News understands Woodward has brought forward the announcement of a planned exit at the end of this year due to the likelihood of leaks.

A short statement issued from the other side of town read: "Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League."

Moments after City confirmed their withdrawal, a statement from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the Champions League semi-finalists "back into the European football family".

"They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices – most notably their fans – that have spelled out the vital benefits that the current system has for the whole of European football; from the world-beating Champions League final right down to a young player's first coaching session at a grassroots club," Ceferin said.

"As I said at the UEFA Congress, it takes courage to admit a mistake but I have never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision.

"City are a real asset for the game and I am delighted to be working with them for a better future for the European game."

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, ostensibly to preview his team's Premier League trip to Aston Villa, Guardiola become the first person associated with City to speak publicly about the matter of the European Super League and left little doubt where he stood on a concept he described as an affront to sporting competition.

"Sport is not a sport when the relation between the effort and reward doesn't exist," he said.

"It's not sport when success is guaranteed, when it doesn't matter if you lose. I want the best competitions as strong as possible. In this statement, it's what I feel. This is not sport."

As cracks began to appear in the Super League project, City's star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne echoed his manager's sentiments in a Twitter statement.

"I have worked and competed against everybody trying to win the ultimate. But the most important word in this is COMPETING," he wrote.

"With all events that have been happening the last few days maybe this is the good moment for everybody to come together and try the work for a solution.

"We know this is a big business and I know I am part of this business. But still I am a little boy who just loves to play football. It's not about a certain entity in this case, it's about football over the whole world.

"Let's keep inspiring the next generation of footballers and keep the fans dreaming."

After City confirmed their exit, De Bruyne's team-mate Raheem Sterling simply tweeted: "Ok bye".

The farewells look set to keep piling up for this ill-conceived attempt to reshape European football.

A statement issued by the FA praised the role of fan pressure in helping to bring about the U-turn.

"We welcome the news that some of the clubs have decided to abandon plans for the European Super League, which threatened the whole football pyramid," it read.

"English football has a proud history based on opportunity for all clubs and the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league. It was a proposition that, by design, could have divided our game; but instead, it has unified us all.

"We would like to thank the fans in particular for their influence and unequivocal voice during this time, holding true the guiding principles of football. It is a powerful reminder that the game is, and always will be, for the fans."

Liverpool's players have put themselves firmly at odds with the club's owners over the planned European Super League, stating: "We don't like it and we don't want it to happen."

As rivals Manchester City pulled out of the controversial new competition, many of Liverpool's biggest names posted or endorsed a message from the squad.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp expressed reservations on Monday, as did veteran midfielder James Milner, but the latest development was flagged as a squad-wide rebuttal of the Fenway Sports Group's plans to take the club into the 'closed-shop' league.

Among those to post the message on Twitter were captain Jordan Henderson, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Virgil van Dijk re-posted Henderson's tweet, with an arrow pointing to the statement.

It read in full: "We don't like it and we don't want it to happen. This is our collective position. Our commitment to this football club and its supporters is absolute and unconditional. You'll Never Walk Alone."

The new league looked on the verge of collapse on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after being officially announced, as City decided to withdraw.

The rebellious stance from Liverpool's players will need to be addressed by the club, given it puts the playing staff in direct conflict with the owners.

Kenny Dalglish, widely regarded as the club's greatest player, was not as forthright as the current Reds stars.

Dalglish, who also twice had spells as manager of the club, wrote on Twitter: "The last few days have been difficult for everyone who loves Liverpool Football Club and I really hope we do the right thing."

Supporters group Spirit of Shankly issued a statement that called into question FSG's ongoing ownership of Liverpool.

It read: "Spirit of Shankly note with anger that club owners FSG are still hanging on to this shattered nightmare of a European 'Super' League.

"We are calling on the FSG board to withdraw our club from this catastrophic idea and consider their positions with immediate effect. To coin a previous campaign of ours 'Not Welcome Here'."

That slogan was previously used by the group as they attempted to pressure former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to leave Liverpool.

"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.

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