Players in the planned breakaway Super League should not be used as a leverage tool in the negotiations between clubs and UEFA and they must be allowed to represent their national teams, the global players' union FIFPRO said on Tuesday.
Twelve of Europe's biggest clubs announced on Sunday they intend to launch a new breakaway midweek competition -- a move triggering widespread criticism from football authorities, players and fans across the continent.
The Super League clubs argue that it would increase revenues to the top teams and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations say it will increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the closed structure of the league goes against European football's long-standing model.
Unlike Europe’s current elite Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would guarantee themselves a place in the new competition every year.
In response, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has warned that players who join the new Super League will be banned from the World Cup and European Championship if the breakaway materialises.
When asked about players facing potential bans from playing for their national teams, FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann told Reuters: "Well, we disagree with that fundamentally.
"It is obvious that the players are now being used as a leverage tool in this fight, which is just wrong.
"They're not taking the decision, they didn't decide neither on a breakaway nor did they decide about the Champions League reform, and yet they're being pulled in between here.
"We will defend the players (and make sure) that they are allowed to represent their country, which is something that they do with a lot of pride and a lot of passion," he added.
Baer-Hoffmann said the Super League could disrupt the economic landscape of European football, with the smaller clubs likely to lose a major chunk of their current revenue streams.
"Whenever you talk about a single entity potentially drawing billions of euros... yes some of this will be new money, but some of this will be coming from current revenue streams that affect smaller clubs, smaller leagues and therefore thousands of jobs of our members," he said.
"I think what is shocking most people at the minute is just that it would of course completely disrupt the way that football or sports in general in Europe has been built for so long."
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