European Super League Announcement Met With Accusations of Greed

UEFA threatened that players from participating clubs “could be denied a chance to represent their national teams”.

4 min read
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, left, and Barcelona’s Gerard Pique walks together on the pitch during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. 

12 powerful European football clubs have announced the launch of a breakaway European Super League in what is a big shift in the way sport is run. The announcement as expected has been met with lots of criticism and accusations of greed.

6 Premier League teams - Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham - are involved in this move, alongside Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan.

The clubs also have a similar competition for the women’s game in the pipeline.

The ESL have proposed to make this a "new midweek competition" and claim they would participate in their respective national leagues and they hope start the tournament "as soon as practicable".

3 more founding clubs would be announced, the ESL said in a statement, with a further five places up for grabs through a qualifying system each year. Crucially, the 15 initial members will be safe from relegation.

All the clubs involved would be split into two groups of ten, playing each other home and away. The top three in each group would qualify for the quarter-finals and the teams in fourth and fifth would play a two-legged play-off for the two remaining spots.

The tournament would then follow the same two-leg knockout format used in the Champions League before the final in May.

In terms of the financial draw for clubs, organisers said they would receive "solidarity payments" that would be "substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition".

For signing up to the new league, "Founding Clubs will receive an amount of 3.5 billion euros solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic," the statement added.


'Project Founded on Self-Interest of Few Clubs'

The clubs, who have signed on for this project, have been accused of greed, criticised by the leaders of Britain and France and threatened with international exile.

While the 12 clubs would like to play domestically as well, UEFA and other FAs have warned that the teams would be excluded from national competitions and the Champions League.

"We... will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever," read a joint statement.

UEFA also threatened that players from the participating clubs "could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams".

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the clubs "must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps".

With no French team among the initial ESL clubs, President Emmanuel Macron said the plans risked "threatening the principle of solidarity and sporting merit".

The ESL announcement was timed to pre-empt UEFA's own scheduled unveiling of reforms to the Champions League on Monday, with an expansion to 36 teams from 32 and two 'wildcard' slots expected to be among the plans. There would be a minimum of 10 games for each team.

FIFA have also made clear their "disapproval" at the Super League plans and called on all parties "to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game."

The Premier League, the richest in Europe, issued a furious statement.

"Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best," it said.

"We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream."

Arsenal, who currently sit ninth in the Premier League, well off the qualification spots for Europe, hinted at the obstacles ahead, saying "there’s lots more to do to bring the competition to life".

The European Club Association (ECA) said it "strongly opposes" the Super League.

Juventus, whose president Andrea Agnelli was also chief of the ECA, said the club and its boss had left the body. The Italian giants though also say that it "cannot assure that the project will be eventually successfully launched".

Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez, who was announced as the first ESL president, said the breakaway reflected the big clubs' wishes.

"Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires," he said.

Manchester United's American co-chairman Joel Glazer, who will be a vice-chairman of the Super League, said it "will open a new chapter for European football".

Bayern Munich beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 at the Estadio da Luz to win its sixth UEFA Champions League title.
Bayern Munich beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 at the Estadio da Luz to win its sixth UEFA Champions League title.
(Photo: Twitter)

German, French Clubs Stay Away

French and German clubs, including reigning European champions Bayern Munich and last season's beaten Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain, were not among the initial ESL clubs.

"We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this," UEFA said.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas compared the ESL clubs to drunks leaving a bar at 5:00am "intoxicated with selfishness and a lack of solidarity".

German Football League boss Christian Seifert said the breakaway could "irreparably damage the national leagues".

The announcement was also condemned by some supporters' groups, with Liverpool's Spirit of Shankly tweeting it was "appalled".

(With AFP Inputs)

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