As 12 elite European clubs continue to plan a move to form a breakaway Super League, officials and fans across the world continue to rebuke them.
The biggest story in the sports world continues to be a plan by 12 of Europe’s top soccer clubs to form their own league, a decision that could forever destroy soccer as we have come to know it.
After Sunday’s announcement that the clubs would form the Super League, rebuke from across Europe and the world has been swift. Indeed, the fallout from this announcement continues 48 hours later and will likely only be settled in the courts.
The warring sides, big-team owners versus the game’s governing bodies, continue to trade shots at one another. UEFA threatened on Monday to ban these clubs, as early as now, from the Champions League.
Super League continues to be controversial
In the first public comments by an owner who is part of the Super League, Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez said he’s “completely sure” his club, along with other Super League participants, won’t be thrown out of this season’s UCL semifinals.
“The Champions League is attractive from the quarterfinals, that’s all,” he told late-night Spanish talk show “El Chiringuito” during an appearance on Monday night. “We play against small teams that aren’t attractive. Young people prefer to entertain themselves with other things. But if we do it all season, five games on Tuesday, five on Wednesday, that would be unstoppable.
“What would bring in money is the 15 clubs playing each other every week. That’s the greatest show in the world, there’s nothing like it,” added Perez, who is the Super League’s first chairman. “A Real Madrid-Manchester [United] or a Barcelona-Milan is more attractive than Manchester [United] against a small club.”
But FIFA backed up UEFA’s threats on Tuesday, issuing a statement saying that “any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial redistribution.
“Moreover, the governing bodies of football should employ all lawful, sporting and diplomatic means to ensure this remains the case,” the statement added. “Against this background, FIFA can only express its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles.”
The move to form a breakaway league, spearheaded by the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, hopes to generate upwards of $5 billion annually from broadcasting rights alone. By comparison, UEFA has said the total commercial revenue for each of the past three seasons from selling the rights to the Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup was $3.9 billion shared among a larger pool of teams.
Even UEFA’s pre-planned decision to enlarge the Champions League starting in 2024 did nothing to appease the big-name clubs.
The entire affair could end up in the courts, where a decision would dictate what happens next. While the European Union could ultimately step in and put the concept of a Super League to rest, others say the big clubs could win the case.
“Today, with the income from the Champions League as it is, we’ll die,” Perez said. “Less audience, less money. We’ll all die, the big clubs, the medium-size clubs, the small clubs. They say the new Champions League format will come in by 2024, we’ll be dead by then.”