The announcement by Europe’s top clubs to form a breakaway league has triggered a soccer war that forces FIFA to potentially punish these teams.
The announcement Sunday that 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs planned to form a breakaway league rocked the soccer world. In return, UEFA, the continent’s governing body, unleashed an attack on the whole plan.
In a statement, UEFA, which also runs the Champions League, said, “We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.”
Speaking to reporters Monday during a Zoom media conference, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin blasted the ESL teams.
“I cannot stress more strongly at the moment that UEFA and the football world stand together alongside this disgraceful, self-serving project from a select few clubs in Europe fueled by greed above all else,” he said.
The pandemic seems to gave fueled talks of a Super League over the past few months, just as UEFA was deciding on whether to expand the Champions League as TV rights and marketing dollars continue to dominate the global game.
With these elite clubs now in an open war with UEFA, as well as FIFA in its role as supreme overseer of the world’s game, here’s a look at what could happen next.
UEFA announces new Champions League format
The timing was clearly intentional. The elite clubs, which include Italian powerhouses such as Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan, made their intentions known a day before UEFA planned to announce changes to the Champions League starting in 2024.
Those changes, finalized at a meeting Monday, would expand Europe’s premier club tournament to 36 teams from the current 32.
UEFA was pushed into this direction in an effort to make the UCL more lucrative for participating teams.
Let’s say teams do play in a breakaway league
It’s unclear when this Super League would start, although it could as soon as this August. That would mean the clubs wouldn’t take part in the Champions League since they decided on their own rival tournament.
If that’s the case, the repercussions could be hefty for any team taking part in the ESL. For starters, their players could be banned from all international competitions. That includes this year’s European Championship and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It remains to be seen what the players think of such a move, but any form of rebellion here will result in heavy penalties for all players involved.
Even bigger potential penalties loom for clubs
The players on these 12 teams wouldn’t be the only ones to suffer the consequences. The teams involved could all be banned from their respective leagues. The Premier League, Serie A and La Liga have all joined in with UEFA to denounce the move.
What does that look like? The leagues could start to punish the clubs as early as now. That means, for example, that Inter Milan who are in first place in Italy could be stripped of the title the moment they were to win it this spring.
It’s a drastic measure, but teams like Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea all removed from this season’s Champions League semifinals. That would mean Paris Saint-Germain, which is not part of the ESL group, could automatically be given the trophy.
Yes, European soccer’s civil, fueled by greed, could result in many casualties before a ball is even kicked.