No one would have guessed that the Panic and confusion that rocked the Football World on Monday would happen when 12 major European football clubs announced a new European Super League. The Super League directly challenges the supremacy of the UEFA-run Champions League, Europe’s top club competition. The 12 clubs are AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Real Madrid & Tottenham. These founding clubs will also govern the new League.
Money it seems is the reason behind the motivation of the European Super League. In the current UEFA Champions League format, clubs have to qualify by finishing high in their domestic league. They then have to navigate different stages of the tournament to reach the high-profile latter stages. High-profile clubs have complained that this brings about huge debt and wages for the star players. The clubs also complained that the Coronavirus pandemic also “accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.”
The clubs meanwhile will earn far more in the European Super League than the Champions League. They will earn around 10 billion euros in uncapped “solidarity payments” during their initial commitment period alone. They will then receive additional 3.5 billion euros for infrastructure investment and to offset their losses from the pandemic.
French, German & Portuguese clubs including PSG, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and FC Porto have however reportedly refused to join the Super League.
REACTIONS AND PENALTIES
The vast majority of the Football world immediately greeted the announcement of the Super League immediately with widespread condemnation. Fans of the clubs involved blasted their clubs and accused them of trying to steal the game from the poor. Past & current players as well as managers also voiced their disapproval of the proposed Super League. Pep Guardiola remarkably opined that “It’s not Sports if the relationship between the effort and reward doesn’t exist. It’s not Sports if it doesn’t matter if you lose.”
Already, UEFA, English, Spanish, and Italian football authorities have announced that any clubs who take part in the so-called European Super League would be banned from all domestic and continental competitions. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has said players participating in the League would be banned from the Euros and World Cup.
The Super League is expected to start in August and will feature two groups of 10 teams playing home and away, with the top three qualifying for the quarter-finals.
The fourth and fifth-placed teams will play off for the remaining quarter-final spots. The quarter and semi-finals will be played over two legs and the final is a single game at a neutral venue. There are also plans for a women’s version.
Three more teams are expected to join qualify automatically for the Super League while another five will qualify annually making it a 20-team competition. Real Madrid president and Manchester United co-owner Florentino Perez and Joel Glazer have been named President and Vice President of the League respectively.
A closed League that will only be played by Europe’s elite clubs is no League at all and is more of a curse than a blessing to Football. Making such a decision without informing current players and managers is even an insult to the Sport. Football should remain as it is; a Sport anyone can earn the right to play by performing and succeeding on the pitch of play. While the current UEFA and FIFA models may not be perfect, creating a League for the rich clubs alone is not the way to go. Football belongs to the fans and should remain so but let’s see how the events unfold.