President Javier Tebas insists LaLiga will not punish Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for launching the European Super League, as "these clubs have been sanctioned by their own fans".

Spain's three biggest clubs said on Sunday they would be involved in a controversial breakaway competition that looked set to rival the Champions League.

But those plans fell through within just two days as pressure applied to England's 'big six' prompted them to back out, soon followed by Atleti.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez remains committed to the project, even if there is no clear route forward, while Barca's Joan Laporta still claims it is "absolutely necessary".

UEFA had threatened to banish clubs and players who signed up to the Super League, which was criticised for its closed nature. Talk of punishment has since dissipated, however.

At domestic level, calls for the six Premier League clubs to be deducted points have so far brought no result.

And Tebas, who declared the Super League "dead", has now confirmed LaLiga will not sanction Madrid, Barca or Atleti, suggesting each was already embarrassed by the response to their grand plans.

"We are not talking about sanctions," Tebas told the media on Thursday. "Everyone wants to cut people's heads off. We have to have a procedure and we have to see how it looks in the end. We have to see how it all works out.

"I'm talking about other types of agreements. We shouldn't rush into anything. I think a very important thing is that these clubs have been sanctioned by their own fans. Their reputations have been affected."

That did not prevent Tebas from criticising the clubs, though, adding his voice to those questioning comments from Perez.

The Madrid chief claimed the proposals would help the rest of the football world, but Tebas feels secretive meetings suggest otherwise.

"They can't tell us they're coming to save us from ruin," Tebas said. "It's not true. Nor that they do not harm national competitions. They do, economically and sportingly. If it was that good for football, they wouldn't have done it behind our backs."

Tebas was speaking as LaLiga released a statement confirming the clubs that were not invited to join the Super League had followed their Premier League counterparts in voting "unanimously and vigorously" against the competition.

"The opposition shown globally in recent days has shown that a closed and elitist European league is unworkable and unwanted," it read.

Lionel Messi is "the best player in history" and should stay at Barcelona, claims LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who laughed off the suggestion of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland joining a Spanish club.

On Sunday, Messi overtook Xavi as the player with the most appearances for Barca, six days after the 33-year-old scored a 20th LaLiga player for the 13th successive season – another record.

The Argentina forward has been involved in more goals in 2021 than any other player across Europe's 'top five' leagues, but he still has not tied his future to the Catalan club, who he wished to leave in 2020.

Messi elected to stay and see out the last year of his contract, but his future remains up in the air with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain interested.

Tebas has consistently urged Messi to remain in Spain but has also refuted the suggestion LaLiga would suffer markedly without the Barca star, citing examples of Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for PSG and Juventus respectively.

He reiterated those comments on Wednesday, suggesting Messi would damage his "brand" by moving to another club.

"If I were Messi's advisor I would tell him, 'Stay at Barca'," Tebas told reporters.

"I want Messi to stay. He is the best player in history. If you are thinking about his last years of football, he should continue to be linked to the Barcelona brand.

"He started at Barcelona and I think he should continue at Barca. If I was his advisor, I would tell him he must do everything possible to stay at Barca."

While Messi continues to break records at Barca, his era of dominance in European football appears to be coming to an end.

Mbappe and Haaland are the players seemingly destined to take the baton from Messi and Ronaldo, with the Borussia Dortmund and PSG stars already having been pitted against each other by media outlets across the continent.

Mbappe, 22, hit his 100th Ligue 1 goal in a 4-2 win over Lyon on Sunday, while 20-year-old Haaland has been in sensational form since breaking through with Salzburg last season.

Between them, the duo have shared 41 goals in all competitions this season (21 for Haaland, 20 for Mbappe), while they have both converted 17 of the 27 "big chances" they have been afforded at a rate of 62.96 per cent.

Often utilised in a wide role for PSG, Mbappe has provided six assists and crafted 25 chances. Haaland has also proved his worth from a creative standpoint, teeing up four goals and forging 19 opportunities for team-mates to score.

Mbappe has often been linked with a move to Barca or Real Madrid but is in talks with PSG over a new deal, while Haaland is reportedly a priority target for Pep Guardiola's City, and Tebas sees little chance of either player moving to LaLiga.

"How, with a magic trick?" Tebas quipped when asked of the likelihood of seeing Mbappe or Haaland playing in Spain.

"Barca have to move out many players to bring a star, Madrid are not in position to do it either. Apart from the clubs owned by nation states, everyone has financial issues."

Barcelona's financial situation is due to the coronavirus pandemic and not Lionel Messi, insisted LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported on Sunday that the deal superstar captain Messi signed in 2017 – due to expire at season's end – is worth more than €555million over four years.

It comes after Messi attempted to leave Camp Nou prior to the 2020-21 campaign and amid Barca's financial woes caused by the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

But Tebas wrote via Twitter: "Barcelona's delicate financial situation [like other big clubs] is not Messi's fault but the devastating effect of COVID.

"Without the pandemic, the income generated by the best player in history would prop up that expenditure.

"The sensationalism that surrounds the matter is unfair."

Messi, who has been heavily linked with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League giants Manchester City as his contract expires, scored his 650th Barca goal in Sunday's 2-1 LaLiga victory against Athletic Bilbao.

The six-time Ballon d'Or opened the scoring with a 20th-minute free-kick before Jordi Alba's own goal restored parity, though Griezmann secured maximum points 16 minutes from the end.

Messi has scored two direct free-kick goals from his last four attempts for Barcelona in all competitions, after scoring just one from his previous 62 attempts.

Of Messi's 650 goals for Barcelona, 49 of them have been direct free-kicks – 38 in LaLiga.

Messi has 12 goals and two assists in the league for Barca, who are second and 10 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said he wants Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in Spain, just like he wants Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the league.

Messi's future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Tebas was asked about Messi's future, and he played down the impact of the Argentina skipper's possible exit.

"I want Messi in LaLiga, just as I want [Tottenham head coach] Mourinho, [City manager] Guardiola, [Liverpool boss] Klopp, [Juventus superstar] Cristiano…," Tebas said at the World Football Summit. "They all help you grow.

"It's not essential. They're not as important as people say. Neymar left. It's necessary to have a strategy, a player can help you, but it's not essential.

"We've got the deals done for the next four seasons in nearly all territories. It can affect sponsorships somewhat, but we've really worked hard on the league's brand and we wouldn't notice it.

"I hope that Messi, who's the best player ever, finished his career here."

Messi has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, where he emerged from Barca's youth team in 2004.

Since debuting, Messi has become Barca's all-time leading scorer and won a club-record 34 trophies, including 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.

In 2020-21, Messi has scored three goals in eight LaLiga matches for 13th-placed Barca, who are 12 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.

Messi has six goals across all competitions as Ronald Koeman's Barca struggle this season.

Javier Tebas has outlined his desire to keep Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos in Spain as LaLiga's president once again aimed a swipe at Manchester City. 

Messi pushed to leave Barcelona during the previous transfer window, with the 33-year-old citing frustrations with the board as he made clear his desire to move on. 

Pep Guardiola's City were heavily linked with the Argentina international, but Messi eventually elected to see out the remainder of his contract at Camp Nou, staying until at least the end of the 2020-21 season. 

Tebas once more reiterated his wish to see Messi remain in LaLiga, though he does not believe the competition will be significantly worse off should the Barca forward move on. 

"We would prefer Messi to stay in La Liga but Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar left and we haven't noticed any difference," said Tebas, who went on to criticise City over how they go about their business. 

"It seems the only club in Premier League that talks about registering Messi is Manchester City, who compete outside the rules. I am not the only one saying this. 

"I am not too worried about them. I have criticised what they do so many times. Doing it one more time makes no difference. 

"City is neither affected by COVID or pandemics or anything because they are financed differently and it is impossible to fight against that."

Also out of contract at the end of the campaign is Real Madrid captain Ramos, who overtook Gianluigi Buffon to become the most capped European footballer when he played for the 177th time for Spain in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Switzerland, during which the defender missed two penalties. 

Ramos cancelled a planned appearance at the national team's media conference on Monday ahead of facing Germany amid reports contract negotiations with Madrid had stalled. 

Tebas, however, expects the centre-back to remain in the Spanish capital. 

"I prefer Messi in the league, Sergio Ramos in the league," he said. "We have had important outings. But we are prepared to have the least possible impact.

"I think Ramos will continue at Real Madrid."

Barcelona must "take the bull by the horns" as they slash their wage bill, LaLiga president Javier Tebas has urged.

The impact of COVID-19 on Barcelona and Real Madrid was laid bare on Tuesday as LaLiga published this season's staff budgets.

Tebas suggested the January transfer window was one where Spain's biggest clubs would struggle to fund major signings.

Barcelona's budget has come down by 43 per cent, from €671.4million (£592.3m) last season to €382.7m (£337.6m) for the current campaign.

Real Madrid have replaced Barca as the team with the biggest budget in Spain, but they also face a major cost-cutting effort, needing to trim their bill by 27 per cent, from €641m (£565.6m) to €468.5m (£413.4m).

The big two are far from alone in feeling the pinch, and Atletico Madrid have also been faced with the problem of how to reduce their spending from €348.5m (£307.5m) to €252.7m (£222.9m).

LaLiga publishes its clubs' budgets each season, and the effects of the pandemic were always expected to mean clubs would face difficulties in operating at anywhere close to their previous level.

With revenue vastly reduced due to games being played without spectators, clubs have already been taking steps towards balancing their books, with a number of players agreeing to defer wages.

Tebas said: "It is very difficult for players to come to the big clubs in January. Cost savings are mandatory."

He explained that this season would inevitably be very different to previous campaigns.

"In the case of Barcelona, ​​for example, I think they have to take the bull by the horns and reduce their wage bill," Tebas said. "Barca are obliged to renegotiate their contracts."

LaLiga is far from alone in being affected so significantly by the coronavirus crisis, but its transparency in terms of revealing its clubs' staff spending limits shines new light on how severely many of them are being hit.

Speaking about Barcelona, whose former president Josep Maria Bartomeu highlighted the club's financial position prior to stepping down in October, Tebas said it was not a case of mismanagement that led to their current drastic situation.

Tebas said, quoted by Spanish newspaper Sport: "When you have a force majeure cause, you cannot say that things have been done wrongly.

"Barcelona had a specific financial strategy that worked well. If we were not in a pandemic, we would not talk about this reduction; it is a force majeure cause."

Barcelona have accepted an invitation to join a proposed new European Super League, according to outgoing president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Bartomeu made the announcement on Tuesday in a speech confirming he and Barca's board of directors are resigning.

"We accept entry into a European Super League of football clubs," he said. "This acceptance will have to be ratified by the next assembly. We have also approved the format of the new Club World Cup.

"The European Super League will make it so the club can remain being one of the members."

A report from Sky Sports last week claimed Liverpool and Manchester United were leading talks around the prospect of a new FIFA-backed tournament featuring the world's biggest clubs.

It was claimed more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain were in negotiations to become founder members of a possible European Premier League backed by $6billion (£4.6billion) of funding.

Bartomeu's comments made it clear that Barca are one such club to have been approached to join the proposed competition, which could start as early as 2022 and comprise home and away fixtures between 18 teams.

Any final decision would have to be ratified by a vote held by the next Barca president and board of directors.

In his speech, Bartomeu did not state whether Barca's involvement in any new such competition would lead to them withdrawing from LaLiga or the Champions League.

The new Club World Cup was scheduled to begin next year, in place of the traditional pre-World Cup tournament, the Confederations Cup, with FIFA expanding the tournament to 24 teams and China selected as host.

The coronavirus pandemic means the event is likely to be pushed back until at least 2022, however.

Bartomeu's admission that Barca have accepted the plans for the new tournament is at odds with the view of the European Club Association (ECA), which last year produced a letter insisting "no ECA clubs would take part".

Writing on Twitter on Tuesday after Bartomeu's resignation speech, LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: "Unlucky Bartomeu, announcing on the final day participation in a phantom competition that would be the ruin of Barcelona, and ratifies his ignorance in the football industry.

"A sad end for a president who had success and, in the end, errors."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas played down the impact of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi possibly leaving Spain, while warning of a financial crisis should the coronavirus pandemic force football to stop again.

Messi handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which saw Barca humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and dethroned by Real Madrid in LaLiga, before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner opted to remain at Camp Nou this term.

The 33-year-old – who has a €700million release clause – was heavily linked to Premier League giants Manchester City, while Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter also emerged as possible destinations.

Asked about Messi, Tebas told reporters: "As I always said, I will always want to see Messi in LaLiga. If he stays at Barcelona, much better for Barcelona.

"The union between Barcelona FC and Messi is so good for Barca, for Messi and for LaLiga. I'm not sure whether departing from Barcelona would have been a good idea for Messi.

"Maybe yes as a player, but not for Messi as a football industry, because Messi is a machine in creating industry around him. Not sure whether it would have worked for him.

"Messi will finally stay but I must say that we had already sold LaLiga TV rights worldwide for the next four years and nobody called us asking to cancel that agreement in case Messi would leave. No one."

The COVID-19 crisis forced the 2019-20 LaLiga season to be suspended in March before the league resumed behind closed doors in June, with Madrid winning the title.

The 2020-21 LaLiga campaign has kicked off but coronavirus cases are rising across Spain and Europe.

"We are reading in the newspapers that the economical activity cannot be stopped again, there must be a balance between the health and the financial aspect," said Tebas.

"If not, we could move from a health pandemic into a financial pandemic, which would be really dangerous."

Lionel Messi's €700million release clause "does not apply at all" as he seeks to leave Barcelona, his father says, although LaLiga reiterated the captain cannot walk away as a free agent.

Messi last week informed Barca he wants to move on after an 2019-20 season in which they failed to win a trophy and were hammered 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Manchester City quickly emerged as suitors for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner but are reportedly only interested in a free transfer.

Messi believed an agreement in his contract meant he could leave Camp Nou at the end of the campaign without the astronomical release clause being paid.

But with the season delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Blaugrana maintained that option has expired, and LaLiga last week said the clause would still need to be paid in full.

Jorge Messi, the Argentina forward's father and representative, responded to LaLiga's statement on Friday, however, just a day after he had acknowledged his son might stay at Barca.

He claimed the contract showed there was "an obvious error" in LaLiga's analysis.

Jorge Messi wrote to president Javier Tebas: "We do not know which contract you have analysed, and what are the bases on which you conclude that the 'termination clause' is not applicable if the player urges the unilateral termination of it with effect from the completion of the 2019-20 sports season.

"This is due to an obvious error on your part."

Jorge quoted the relevant clause in Messi's contract, then added: "Without prejudice to other rights that are included in the contract and that you omit, it is obvious that the compensation of 700 million euros, provided for in the previous clause 8.2.3.5, does not apply at all."

According to his father, Messi's contract reads: "This compensation will not apply when the termination of the contract by unilateral decision of the player takes effect from the end of the 2019-2020 sports season."

LaLiga offered a swift response, saying his claims were "decontextualised and far from reality of the contract they signed", before referring back to its earlier statement.

Reports in Argentina on Friday shortly after Jorge Messi's letter emerged claimed the Barca captain would remain at the club for the coming season.

LaLiga has thanked second-tier Fuenlabrada for appearing to concede a possible promotion play-off place despite the club insisting they could yet contest their postponed final fixture against Deportivo La Coruna.

The season-ending Segunda Division encounter was called off shortly before its scheduled kick-off time last Monday after several Fuenlabrada players tested positive for coronavirus.

There are now 28 positive cases connected to the club and Fuenlabrada admitted in a statement on Sunday that "it is impossible to foresee when and under what conditions" the game could go ahead.

The statement suggested the Madrid outfit were willing to accept a permanent cancellation, an outcome that would resign them to an eighth-place finish and deny Jose Ramon Sandoval's charges the chance to compete in the four-team play-off for promotion to the top flight.

LaLiga responded by expressing its "absolute appreciation" for Fuenlabrada's "enormous sacrifice" and the league's president, Javier Tebas, publicly took responsibility for the awkward situation, tweeting: "FOOTBALL OWES YOU ONE."

But while LaLiga claimed it had communicated the "definitive suspension of the match" to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), and that sixth-placed Elche would retain the final play-off spot, the matter appears far from finished.

Fuenlabrada released a follow-up statement clarifying their view that the match could still take place in early August, adding: "We understand that LaLiga is not the only competent body to make this decision.

"The decision is also in the hands of the RFEF Competition Committee and, where appropriate, the CSD [National Sports Council].

"Fuenlabrada is not considered out of the play-off and remains pending the resolution of the other competent bodies."

Depor, who like Fuenlabrada have played a game fewer than 20 other Segunda Division sides, will be closely monitoring the developments.

The former top-flight title winners hoped to avoid relegation with a final-day victory and have threatened legal action over a postponement that has left them in limbo.

Manchester City's success in appealing a two-year UEFA competition ban proves the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is no longer up to standard, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

In February, the Premier League club were accused of committing "serious breaches" of UEFA's Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. They were handed a two-season suspension from European tournaments and fined €30million.

But CAS ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in the Champions League next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

Tebas has long been a critic of City and Paris Saint-Germain, routinely accusing them of "ruining" football due to being funded by "petrol money" from the Middle East, suggesting in 2017 that such situations were "financial doping".

And following Monday's ruling, Tebas hit out at CAS and questioned whether they can still be trusted to judge on such matters.

He told reporters: "We have to reassess whether the CAS is the appropriate body to which to appeal institutional decisions in football.

"Switzerland is a country with a great history of arbitration, the CAS is not up to standard."

City CEO Khaldoon Al Mubarak has previously fired back at Tebas for his comments, urging the Spanish official to look back on the history of LaLiga and its domination by two clubs before casting judgement on other leagues.

LaLiga still hopes to have supporters back in stadiums before the end of the season, says president Javier Tebas.

Spain's top flight was returning on Thursday with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis following a three-month suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The game, behind closed doors at Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, came as Spain continues to adhere to social distancing measures amid the COVID-19 crisis.

However, Tebas – while ruling out stadiums operating at full capacity – remains optimistic venues will be able to allow some spectators through the doors before the campaign comes to a close.

Speaking to reporters, LaLiga chief Tebas said: "Of course it won't be the entire stadium and there will be special precautionary measures.

"If we can have even 10 per cent or 15 per cent by the end of the season, if that happens we will be very happy about that because that's a sign that we are getting back to some form of normality.

"When we celebrate will be when we actually finish the competitions, both the first division and the second division. This crisis still hasn't come to an end.

"The pandemic is on a sharp decline. The return to stadiums would have to be coordinated by the ministry for health and the Consejo Superior de Deportes [the Sports Council], and it is obviously not going to be the whole stadium."

He added: "It is important that fans start to return."

Tebas again stated the 2020-21 LaLiga campaign will start on September 12, which could cause issues for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Getafe and Sevilla who are all still in European competitions that are due to be concluded in August.

"If we need to, we will adapt their fixture list, so that their games get played," Tebas added.

"They will start on September 19, September 26, it won't be easy [but] we will look for dates for them to [make up] those matches.

"You can't change things for 20 clubs to suit two; it is much better that those two adapt."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has threatened to force teams into training camps if players continue to flout medical protocols.

Spain's top flight was due to resume on Thursday with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, three months after playing was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown measures across the country have been eased in recent weeks, with life beginning to return to relative normality, but some protocols remain in place and a few players have broken them.

Four Sevilla players were photographed at a barbecue in a group of 12 people at a time when any gathering was supposed to be limited to 10, while Barcelona confirmed on Thursday that Nelson Semedo was missing from training "as per protocol established by LaLiga".

The Portugal defender was reported to have attended a party and broken social-distancing guidelines earlier in the week.

Tebas has now warned players that LaLiga will impose rules forcing them to work in training camps if they continue to ignore the regulations.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Tebas said: "What we are thinking is that if players keep doing this we'll have to consider having obligatory training camps.

"We wanted to do that but over the last few weeks we saw the clubs were obeying the protocols, but if we start to see three or four players at each club disobeying these rules then we'll have no other remedy than to impose training camps.

"We hope we don't have to but if people keep going to barbecues and parties we might have to. LaLiga has shown a lot of faith in players by not enforcing camps so, [we ask them] please, return that confidence, and don't break the rules as that harms LaLiga and people's health in general."

Walking through Seville's Nervion district on derby day at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is an experience to behold.

Approaching the stadium from the north west, you stroll past a huge congregation of supporters waving flags, scarves and flares on Calle Luis de Morales right outside the Melia Lebreros – the hotel Sevilla players stay in before home games.

The street is blocked off for traffic at either end, the blue lights from the police's intimidating riot vans clearly visible above the crowds, and a reminder of the hostilities.

Hearing even louder chants, you head for an opening between a department store and a row of smaller shops – as soon as the corner is turned, everything begins to hit.

A seemingly endless sea of people appears in your path, the noise levels rise exponentially and a host of smells swarm you. The stench of police horses, alcohol and flare smoke are all prevalent as you attempt to squeeze through the thronged mass of 'Sevillistas' singing and chanting, setting off their fireworks as they jump around.

The approximate 250-metre walk to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan's north stand takes an age such is size of the gathering, which is essentially a huge street party. It's a fitting atmosphere and spectacle for Spain's fiercest city rivalry.

Except, it will – or, at least, should – be rather different on Thursday, as Real Betis go to Sevilla in LaLiga's first match following the coronavirus-enforced suspension, the hosts looking to resume their push for a Champions League spot after three months.

With the contest to be played behind closed doors, El Gran Derbi will lose a significant part of what makes it special – the atmosphere and passion.

Although certain lockdown measures have been relaxed across Spain, fans won't be allowed to attend matches, and both clubs have urged supporters to stay away on Thursday.

More than 600 police officers will be stationed in Nervion, as local authorities attempt to prevent mass gatherings or trouble, while much of the surrounding areas will be completely cordoned off.

Such measures bely an expectation of uncontrollable excitement. Certainly, a glance at the social channels of the clubs and LaLiga itself paint a picture of immense enthusiasm.

But for many supporters there is a pre-match feeling of detachment, not because of the three-month hiatus, rather its billing as a 'derbi'.

This is one of the world's most famous city rivalries, a fixture that's steeped in history – Betis were formed due to a breakaway from Sevilla in the early 1900s and tensions have boiled practically ever since, the fiery passion of their supporters key to that, though not always in a positive sense.

But without them this is just a game between two squads made up of players from across the world.

Realistically, there will be no more than three players from either academy on the pitch; Jesus Navas, Joaquin and Antonio Barragan, the latter of whom is by no means a regular for Betis and originally comes from Galicia.

On-lookers might have mistaken social-distancing Betis ultras setting off green fireworks on the bank of the Guadalquivir river the other night as a sign of elation, but with them were two banners. One read 'this is our derby'; 'derby - fans = nothing' said the other.

But these feelings don't come from a perception that fans should be allowed in. If anything, there's a belief football shouldn't be being played at all, currently.

In the past few weeks, Sevilla's Biris Norte ultras have displayed banners of their own near the club's training ground that say, 'football doesn't return, your business returns' followed by LaLiga's logo.

There are those from both sides who have scoffed at LaLiga's choosing of this match to resume the season, given the disregard the league's president Javier Tebas and the two sets of supporters have for each other.

Tebas is unpopular at the best of times, but in Seville he finds even fewer admirers.

Fans from both teams have engaged in insulting chanting against the official down the years, and although he insists that doesn't bother him, his commitment to drive what LaLiga deems to be offensive songs from stadiums has seen Betis and Sevilla seemingly targeted in the past decade.

Angels they are not, but even the local press accuses Tebas and LaLiga of double standards.

In May 2015, after anti-Tebas chanting rang out from all corners of Betis' Benito Villamarin stadium, an El Desmarque story covered the latest. "So far this year, the Betis fans are one of the most persecuted in this regard," it read. "Rare is the week in which there are no reports of offensive chants in the Verdiblanco stadium, while in other grounds where these songs are also heard, they are not included in the [sanctions] statement made by LaLiga every week."

To some, Tebas' desire for the derby to kick-start the season feels like a slap in the face. Would he have chosen it if supporters were allowed in?

A cynical view, perhaps, and one can forgive Tebas for aiming to stoke intrigue after a three-month break that will have lasting financial implications for most clubs in LaLiga, and the league itself.

"It will be the most-watched [Seville] derby in history, not only in Spain, but in the rest of the world," Tebas told COPE on Sunday. "I understand that Sevilla-Betis is going to be a world event."

Tebas' assertion that the derby is "unique" is correct – few will argue that it isn't special.

But in front of empty stands, keeping the charm of 'El Gran Derbi' alive will be a difficult ask for the players on what promises to be a peculiar evening in Nervion.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas was left "concerned" after Sevilla players were found to have broken lockdown rules by having a social gathering on Saturday.

Ever Banega, Lucas Ocampos, Franco Vazquez and Luuk de Jong were seen congregating in a group of around 12 people in a since-deleted Instagram post uploaded by Banega's partner.

There is a maximum of 10 people permitted at gatherings in Seville, which remains in the early stages of Spain's easing of lockdown measures – though it is set to become the largest city to enter phase two on Monday.

All four players issued public apologies on Sunday, with Vazquez acknowledging they had "failed everyone" with their actions.

Tebas, who in the same interview confirmed LaLiga plans to resume on June 11 with Sevilla against Real Betis, stressed that those involved did express regret, but he felt it necessary to again remind footballers of their responsibilities.

 

"I am going to emphasise that the players have repented, which is positive," he said on Partidazo. "The players are an example for society and they must be careful with what they do.

"I appeal to all footballers; you cannot have this attitude. You have to be very careful because we jeopardise many jobs.

"At that gathering there could have been an asymptomatic [person with COVID-19], and it seemed that everyone smoked from a shisha pipe.

"You have to be responsible for everything you do. Security is total on the pitches where they train and in games, but I am concerned about these places and these meetings. We have to be very cautious."

Spain has had almost 283,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 28,752 deaths – only the United States, United Kingdom and Italy have reported more fatalities.

However, the daily death toll on Saturday was just 50.

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