European Super League (ESL) officials suffered a significant blow on Saturday as Juventus abandoned plans to reform the breakaway competition. The Italian side was previously one of a dozen big clubs that signed up to create the league back in 2021. Nine of these teams, however, quickly withdrew their intentions at the time due to a fan revolt.

Despite the backlash, Juve remained committed to the ESL alongside Spanish duo Barcelona and Real Madrid. A court victory back in December of 2023 essentially paved the way for the breakaway to potentially form in the near future. The European Court of Justice declared that both FIFA and UEFA abused their power in attempting to block the ESL from forming.

Officials have been attempting to persuade other European clubs to join the new league ever since the ruling. In fact, just a month after the court’s decision, ESL execs claimed that 20 teams were ready to join the new division. Nevertheless, Juve’s new change of mind may throw a wrench into the works of the breakaway league.

PSG exec welcomes Juve back, takes shot at Spanish duo

In withdrawing their intentions to join the ESL, Juve also requested to rejoin the European Club Association (ECA). The organization, officially recognized by FIFA and UEFA, works to develop clubs’ interests on the continent. ECA’s current chairman also happens to be Paris Saint-German president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

The exec claimed that the Italian side will be welcomed back with open arms in a statement released on Saturday. “They are back. It is great,” proclaimed Al-Khelaifi. “The club has an amazing history. We are proud they are back to their family. I also call the others to be back.”

Nasser Al-Khelaifi was delighted to welcome Juventus back into the UEFA fold
Nasser Al-Khelaifi was delighted to welcome Juventus back into the UEFA fold

Nasser Al-Khelaifi was delighted to welcome Juventus back into the UEFA fold

Despite Juve’s new position, Barca and Real appear willing to continue on with their ESL plans. Madrid president Florentino Perez is essentially leading the charge. Nevertheless, Al-Khelaifi has hit out at the Spanish tandem, reiterating that it “doesn’t make sense” for just two teams to be in the breakaway league.

“They can play two teams, home and away for 20 matches?”, continued the PSG exec. “It is not for anyone’s interest. They are going against their (own) interests today.”

Interestingly enough, Real Madrid will face Borussia Dortmund on Saturday for the UEFA Champions League crown. The Spanish giants have already collected the most European titles, having collected 14 top continental trophies in their illustrious history.

“I heard yesterday [Madrid] talked about the love story between Madrid and the Champions League,” Al-Khelaifi stated. “On the other hand they want to destroy the Champions League. You love or you hate. You want to destroy the thing you hate?”

Juve set to feature in Champions League next season

ESL officials only just revealed a potential starting date for the breakaway tournament on Friday. Organizers are planning to begin play in the division sometime in September of 2025. This date remains in place despite the fact that the actual clubs taking part have not been made public. It’s unclear if Juve’s decision will change this planning.

Juve’s reversal interestingly comes as the club qualified for the 2024/25 Champions League competition. The Old Lady was previously set to compete in the Europa Conference League during the current campaign after finishing seventh in the 2022/23 table.

Nevertheless, the Italian side was then banned from competing in the third-tiered tournament last summer due to financial fair play (FFP) issues.

This suspension is, however, now lifted and the club will compete in the Champions League next season.

Photo credits: IMAGO / Herrmann Agenturfotografie : IMAGO / LaPresse