Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European football governing body Uefa, has defended the Premier League against claims that it has become too powerful.
The financial superiority of England’s top division has allowed its clubs to dominate the transfer market for players and led to criticism from some continental rivals.
But Ceferin, speaking today at a Uefa congress in Lisbon where his unopposed re-election was confirmed, suggested the concerns were motivated by envy.
“We must never forget that jealousy has never been a good counsellor,” he said.
Those still pushing for a European Super League have turned their attention to blaming the Premier League after their initial attempts to break away from Uefa were thwarted.
Ceferin added: “A few months ago, Uefa and its club competitions were being blamed for all the evils in football and the inequalities within the leagues. Today, it’s the English Premier League that seems to be under attack.
“Since the British government, supporters and clubs said no to the Super League, the Premier League has been demonised and labelled a Super League in its own right that needs to be toppled.
“However, the Premier League’s success was not achieved by accident. By adopting an audacious approach based on a vision, a strategy and a lot of hard work, its leaders and clubs developed a remarkable model founded on sporting merit and a highly egalitarian distribution of wealth – one of the most egalitarian systems in the world.
“Rather than a model to be destroyed, this is a model that should be followed.”
Ceferin also pointed out that, while Premier League teams might have more money than their European rivals, that has not translated into dominance of the Champions League.
“Let me reassure those who fear that English football will crush everything that stands in its way,” he said.
“The figures do not lie: in the last 20 years, the Champions League has been won on five occasions by English clubs. Only twice in the last decade an English club has lifted the iconic trophy with the big ears.
“This season 17 countries, 17 domestic leagues from everywhere in Europe played the round of 16 of Uefa club competitions. Football is still for everyone. But it is true that jealousy sees everything except the truth.”