Media outlets across Europe began reporting early yesterday evening that the proposed European Super League has officially been called off following extreme backlash from supporters, players, and politicians alike. After a report that the English giants were formally withdrawing from the competition, Chelsea FC announced their own plans to withdraw, with FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid following closely behind. Shortly thereafter, at about 2:45 EST, the official word broke that the ESL would halt plans, and cease operations. Fans outside of Stamford Bridge erupted in celebration following the announcement the Blues would be leaving, a decision garnering respect from fans across the Premier League.
The “Super League”, created with the financial support of Joel Glazer (of the famed Glazer ownership Family) and investment banking firm J.P. Morgan Chase, was designed to move the top 12-16 European clubs into a competitive midweek league, separate from domestic competition. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez would serve as the chairman for the new league. Yes, the same Florentino Perez who famously claimed “The youth don’t care about football” and just last night said that “football matches must be shortened”, a testament to his lack of intelligence. The $4.8 billion-dollar project was dropped unexpectedly in the midst of the Champions League semi-finals, as well as various domestic competitions, forcing UEFA and FIFA to intervene.
The initial announcement on April 18th was met with immediate criticism, with the #SayNoToSuperLeague making the rounds on Twitter over the past 48 hours. Players across the top leagues, both on teams in and out of the Super League also shared their thoughts, with Harry Maguire going a step further as to confront Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward following a meeting yesterday morning at the Red Devils’ training session. Since then, Woodward announced publicly that he’ll be stepping down from his position at season’s end. Fellow United teammates Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford also took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the matter, calling for those in power to consider the fans and players before the money.
Liverpool midfielder and captain Jordan Henderson went the extra mile, orchestrating a meeting between each of the six Premier League captains involved before each went to their respective clubs and led the charge out of the ESL. Henderson tweeted yesterday afternoon, “We don’t like it, and we don’t want it to happen. This is our collective position.”
In a fairly similar chain of events, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli announced that he too would be resigning from his post as a result of the failed league, after facing the same level of criticism the other clubs had. Juventus, as most know, is currently home to one of the greatest players of all-time, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, 36, is in line to participate in what will most likely be his final World Cup next year in Qatar. If Juventus were to have joined the ESL, that dream would have become just that, a dream. FIFA announced any players signed to and playing for clubs involved in the league would be banned from joining any of their international teams for global tournaments. The same was announced by UEFA, barring players from participating in the Euros, as well as banning clubs from the Champions and Europa Leagues.
Florentino Perez yet again found himself involved in this conversation, as he reportedly tried reassure his players and staff that FIFA would take no executive action against any of the aforementioned group. That’s real easy to say when you’re making money off of them saying “Yes” regardless of if they ever put on their nation’s colors again. What Perez, Glazer, and the countless other money-hungry owners did to the world football over the past three days is something that we, as soccer fans, collectively need to never forget. Fans absolutely have a say in their club’s direction and ambitions, and the day a club makes a decision without its fans in mind again, is the day they lose our money and support.
While the Premier League expressed that they will not be pursuing legal action against the Big Six, ownership groups have been pelted with insults and backlash from supporters. Some even called April 18th the day that football died. and staging protests outside of matches. Most notably, Liverpool’s trip to Elland Road to play Leeds. Clubs not invited such as Wolves have slashed jersey prices in half, while others have offered kit trade-ins for fans looking to distance themselves from what seemed to be a pure cash grab.
Norweigan national team head coach Stale Solbakken had arguably the most fervent response when asked about the ESL by news outlet VG. Solbakken stated, “(Juventus Owner) Andrea Agnelli has been among the driving forces in recent years. In recent years, they have been knocked out by Lyon, Porto, and Ajax in the Champions League. What the f*** are they doing in this tournament then?” Solbakken later added, “Tottenham and Arsenal are now probably not among the 20-30 best teams in Europe.”
This week looked like it was set to become one of the darkest weeks in football history. That crisis has been averted for now, though this saga is far from over. Countless front office shake-ups will certainly go public in the coming days, and the real truth of the situation will come to light. At the end of the day, soccer is a sport made by the fans, for the fans, and it’s clear that we’ll fight tooth and nail to protect it regardless of how much money is in the way.
(Photo: Frank Augstein/AP)
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