After resisting offers to take his team into the ill-fated Super League, Paris Saint-Germain’s president was picked to lead the network of European football clubs on Wednesday.
Nasser Al-Khelaïfi’s selection as European Club Association chairman extends a stellar week in football politics for PSG and Bayern Munich — the two most notable absences from the rebel Super League group, which ended the short-lived project on Wednesday. Without Bayern and PSG, the 12 Super League clubs were isolated in England, Spain and Italy even before a massive backlash led by fans worldwide helped end the project in less than three days.
Bayern and PSG, which met in last year’s Champions League final, now hold both seats kept for clubs on the UEFA executive committee, which ultimately makes decisions on competition changes.
The Super League rebels all left the 246-member ECA after announcing their project.
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Juventus president Andrea Agnelli also resigned as ECA chairman, and from UEFA’s executive committee. It left Al-Khelaïfi as the most prominent board member at the ECA to restore its fractured relationship with UEFA.
“The leadership, integrity and togetherness of our organisation has never been more required than at this pivotal moment in European football,” Al-Khelaïfi said in an ECA statement.
He was hailed as “a great man” by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Tuesday when the European football body had its annual meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, amid the turmoil. The Qatari official also heads Doha-based broadcaster beIN Sports Group , which is one of UEFA’s biggest commercial partners with a slew of Champions League broadcast rights.
When Al-Khelaïfi was handed a new three-year mandate on UEFA’s ruling committee on Tuesday, he was joined by long-time Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who replaced Agnelli.
Rummenigge’s legal adviser at Bayern, Michael Gerlinger, was promoted on Wednesday to be the ECA’s first vice-chairman.
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Al-Khelaïfi is a former professional tennis player and close friend to the Emir of Qatar. He took over at PSG when the club was bought by Qatar after the gas-rich emirate was picked by FIFA in 2010 as host of the 2022 World Cup.
Last year, Al-Khelaïfi was acquitted by Swiss federal judges on a charge of inciting a former top FIFA official to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement. Prosecutors appealed in February against the trial verdict.
French prosecutors also targeted Al-Khelaïfi in a separate and ongoing investigation into payments linked to bids to host the track and field world championships in Doha. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
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