New UEFA Champions League. | LAURENT GILLIERON


The existing structure of European sports in under threat by self-interest and pure commercialism, the International Olympic Committee warned on Tuesday, in a veiled reference to the breakaway Super League in European football.

Twelve of Europe's top clubs launched the breakaway Super League on Sunday, kicking off what is set to be a bitter battle for control of the game and its revenue with European soccer's governing body UEFA and world soccer's FIFA.

"The very existence of the European sports model is under threat. It is challenged by a purely profit-driven approach that ignores the... social values of sports and real needs in the post-coronavirus world," IOC President Thomas Bach told a UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.

Bach, whose organisation had to postpone the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the existing model allowed for sports clubs to operate on every level, with revenues from elite competitions filtering down to the smallest amateur clubs.

"This European sports model is under threat because the social mission of sports organisations is losing ground to the purely profit-oriented goals of commercial sports providers and investors," Bach said.

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The renegade clubs - six from the English Premier League plus three each from Spain and Italy - will be guaranteed places in the new competition in contrast to the Champions League, which requires teams to qualify via their domestic leagues.

U.S. investment bank JP Morgan JPM.N is financing the new league, providing a 3.5 billion euro grant to the founding clubs to spend on infrastructure and recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin described the Super League plan as a "spit in the face" of all football lovers and urged for the clubs and players who are to compete in it to be banned from all UEFA competitions.

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

"This lesson applies to everybody. It also applies to sport and sports organisations. If everything is looked at from a business perspective... then the social mission of sport is lost."