Italian Federation head Gravina opposes Super League, hopeful of fans at Euro 2021 fixtures

FILE PHOTO: Italian Football Federation (FIGC) Chairman Gabriele Gravina speaks to the media after a board meeting in Rome, Italy, November 5, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - Gabriele Gravina, president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), has spoken out against a breakaway European Super League and said he hopes to see a "good percentage" of fans at the delayed Euro 2021 fixtures to be played in Rome this summer.

Gravina is up for re-election on Monday against the current president of the amateur leagues, Cosimo Sibilia, having held the top job at the FIGC since October 2018.

In an interview with sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport published on Tuesday, the 67-year-old outlined his opposition to a potential Super League.

"I'm absolutely against it," he said.

"The roots and territoriality of our world must be safeguarded."

Speculation has intensified in recent years about Europe's top clubs breaking away from their national leagues to form a new competition. World governing body FIFA issued a joint statement in January with the six continental confederations including Europe's UEFA saying any players taking part in a Super League would be banned from FIFA competitions like the World Cup.

There are plans to reform UEFA's flagship club competition the Champions League from 2024, which would see it grow from 32 to 36 teams. UEFA wants a single league table in which the clubs each play 10 different opponents, with qualification to come from the one table.

"The 'Super Champions League' must be a cause of development for everyone and definitively remove the threat of the Super League," Gravina said.

"UEFA has no intention of 'mortifying' the national competitions, a solution will be found for the growth of Italian and European football.”

Two potential problems were put to Gravina: the lack of time for players to rest in a packed fixture schedule, and the risk of inflated competitions resulting in the saturation of public interest.

"The first problem is already there. We need to quickly promote an overall reasoning that also takes into consideration the explanations of the protagonists on the pitch," he said.

"The second problem can be stemmed by investing in the product and always creating new interests around all the competitions."

Gravina also touched on this summer's postponed European Championships, which are scheduled to kick off at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome when Italy face Turkey on June 11.

The Italian capital is set to host Italy's three group games against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales as well as a quarter-final match, and the FIGC president is hopeful that fans will be in attendance after a meeting with the government's technical-scientific committee.

"The discussion we had recently was very positive. We're working on the hypothesis of having a good percentage of spectators at the Olimpico for the Euros,” he said.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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