Timeline: The 72 Hours of European Super League’s Existence
FIFA & UEFA weren’t in any mood to side with the rebels led by Florentino Perez, & reacted harshly to the proposal.
The last 48 hours had stakeholders in European football rattled, angry, and extremely disappointed as 12 clubs (6 from England, 3 from Spain, and 3 from Italy) floated the idea of a breakaway Super League on Sunday, 18 April.
Fans and players were strongly opposed to the new tournament and as were the coaches of the said clubs. FIFA and UEFA weren’t in any mood to side with the rebels led by Florentino Perez either, and reacted harshly to the proposal.
Eventually, as the backlash grew stronger, the Premier League clubs, starting with Manchester City reversed their decisions on Tuesday evening. With half the clubs turning their back on the controversial tournament, the brains behind the European Super League were forced to put a halt to their ambitious plans.
Here’s a recap of how the saga around the European Super League unfolded.
18 April, Sunday
Reports start emerging that the Premier League’s Big 6 along with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan, and AC Milan had signed up for a league that will have 15 permanent members as the founding clubs.
The news travels fast and former Manchester United captain Gary Neville calls out the clubs for their greed on Sky Sports. “They’re breaking away to a competition they can’t be relegated from? It’s an absolute disgrace,” he says. “It’s pure greed, they’re impostors. The owners of Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City have nothing to do with football in this country.”
Soon after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also expressed his displeasure at the situation. He said the clubs "must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps". And was joined by France President Emmanuel Macron, who said the plans risked "threatening the principle of solidarity and sporting merit". No French team had joined the alliance, despite rumours that Paris Saint Germain were likely candidates.
The evening ends with the 12 clubs posting similar statements on social media about their decision regarding the ESL, which was then expected to started in August with Real Madrid supremo Florentino Perez as the President of the league.
19 April, Monday
The men in the corridors of power in the ESL start leaving their positions with the European Club Association, while FIFA and UEFA are notified about legal proceedings that were designed to derail the governing bodies’ attempts to stop the rebels.
All the while, the fans continue to voice their frustration about the situation and German clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund also announce that they’re not interested in the breakaway league.
As the day rolls on and Jose Mourinho is shown the door at Tottenham, the likes of Ander Herrera, Mesut Ozil, Bruno Fernandes, Arsene Wenger, and Sir Alex Ferguson speak out against the proposal.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino are unequivocal in their criticism of the heads of the clubs. Ceferin is especially critical off Ed Woodward (Man United) and Andrea Agnelli (Juventus) and wants players part of the ESL to be banned from international football.
“We didn’t know we had snakes so close to us, now we know,” Ceferin said.
"If some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choice, they are responsible for their choice -- concretely this means, either you are in, or you are out. You cannot be half in and half out. This has to be absolutely clear," Infantino told UEFA's congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
"We can only and strongly disapprove of a Super League, which is a closed shop, breakaway from current institutions," Infantino said.
As the Monday evening Premier League games roll on, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and James Milner, too, are opposed to the new competition, while Leeds’ Patrick Bamford questions why racism is not spoken about with so much gusto.
In the hours after the Leeds-Liverpool draw, Florentino Perez reportedly tells Spanish TV that the ESL will “save football”. The Real Madrid supremo also added that matches in the Super League may be shorter and that “everything I do is for the good of football, which is in a critical moment.”
20 April, Tuesday
After a meeting among the 14 Premier League clubs (excluding the Big 6), Everton ask for the proposal to be withdrawn with in a stinging statement that called the plan arrogant.
Hours later, The Guardian reports that Premier League giants Man City and Chelsea are reconsidering their decisions.
Adding his voice to the movement against ESL was Man City manager Pep Guardiola saying, “It is not a sport where the relation between the effort and the success, the effort and the reward, does not exist. It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed or it is not a sport when it doesn’t matter where you lose.”
Later in the evening, with Chelsea playing Brighton in the Premier League, Man City become the first to withdraw from the controversial European Super League and are then followed by the rest of the 5 English clubs.
Arsenal were the first to apologise to their fans while Liverpool’s John Henry also had apologised to the fans on 21 April.
Meanwhile, news also filtered in that Man United’s Ed Woodward would be stepping down at the end of the season from his post of executive vice-chairman at the club.
By the end of the night the Florentino Perez-led delegation released a statement saying they would need more time to reshape the project.
By mid-day on 21 April, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan announced a change of mind by withdrawing from the Super League.
(With inputs from ESPN and The Guardian)
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