The European Super League: A Saga

Whether you are a football fan or not, you must have noticed the social media buzz about the European Super League that was announced in the past week! Here is what exactly went down.

WHAT IS THE SUPER LEAGUE?

The Super League is a new European Football competition among the top 20 Football Clubs comprising 15 founders and 5 annual qualifiers. There will be 2 groups of 10 clubs each that would play home and away games against one another. Following this, the top 3 in each group qualify for the quarterfinals, the 4th and 5th ranking teams battle it out in the playoffs for a chance to be one of the 8 qualified teams, and thereon will follow a series of classic two-legged matches to reach the finals!

WHY SUPER LEAGUE?

Experts suggest that the idea of this league is purely focused around on the financial aspect because, under the current system of UEFA, the top clubs do not get their desired revenues. Additionally, the pandemic has hit them hard, causing the games to be played behind closed doors leading to an absence of revenue due to the lack of ticket sales. Besides the decreasing revenue, these elite clubs pay a hefty sum of money to the signed star players of the club.

Along with an initial investment of $6 billion made by JP Morgan, the founding clubs will receive 3.5 billion dollars collectively to participate in the tournament. Later on, the clubs could receive up to $10 billion as solidarity payments in the future.

Although UEFA also has kept aside a fund for solidarity payments to the clubs, the number of teams as recipients of this fund seems to be a massive difference. Around 1600 teams have received funds from this in the past decade, whereas the Super League will be distributing this to only the 20 participating clubs. This is where the big money comes in.

However, the Chairman of the European Super League, who also happens to be the president of the Real Madrid Club, has other thoughts. He claims to be saving football by inaugurating a championship like the European Super League, where top clubs would go up against each other every week, causing regeneration of the lost interest in the game among the fans.

He claimed that 16-to-24-year olds seem to be losing interest in the game. To tackle this, football needs an attractive change for the younger generations. He went on to speak about shortening the length of the game because 90 minutes is too long. His statements blew up the internet and were mocked and criticized by football fanatics!

THE CONTROVERSY

As soon as the league’s announcement was made, UEFA and FIFA collectively released the statement claiming that participation of any club in the ESL would lead to a ban on participating in the domestic leagues. Furthermore, even the players of these teams would be banned from representing their countries internationally! Following this bold announcement, the Chairman of ESL leveled up by saying if the FIFA world cup goes on to ban these players, they will organize another world cup of their own because it is no big deal. And once again, he made a fool of himself.

THE REACTIONS

There was no delay in the backlash received by the ESL. Social media protests started right after the announcement. And needless to say, it was trending across all social media platforms! The Fans were shocked, wondering how Spurs and Arsenal will make it to a league where only the best teams play! Jokes apart, everyone across the world was upset with the structure of the tournament. There is no competition to fight for the spot, and the teams are just handed a permanent place in the top 15, where there is no fear of relegation! This should not be a part of the sport because fair play is the essence of football.

The next day Leeds players joined the protests by wearing a t-shirt before the game that said, “Football is For The Fans, Earn It.” People appreciated and loved this gesture! Even the legendary stars of the game, like Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, to name a few, were disappointed by the ESL and were making negative comments about the competition.

Chelsea fans were the first to start protesting outside Stamford bridge. They expressed their disapproval for the new league, followed by the other English clubs. After seeing all the reactions globally, Manchester City was the first to withdraw itself from the ESL. Because evidently, they are in no need of money. Manchester City followed by all the other English clubs. And since there cannot be a successful league without the participation of premier league clubs, the clubs from different leagues withdrew too.

THE END OF THE SUPER LEAGUE?

After the 3-day roller coaster ride that the football world went through, the ESL was suspended because of the withdrawal of the founding clubs. However, Florentino said that this is not the end. The ESL has just been temporarily suspended.

Soon after this, UEFA announced that it would change the champions league format from the 2024-2025 season, which will host 36 teams instead of the traditional 32 and have much more games during the season. As a result of this charade, football witnessed the power of fans. They saved football from dying.

Rohit Joshi

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