Talks of a new European Super League (ESL) have been known for some time, but plans were finally announced over the weekend that left much of the football (soccer for us, sorry) world in an uproar. Essentially, twelve of the top clubs across Europe will withdraw from Europe’s governing body, UEFA, and will be form a new competition, the Super League, which will play games midweek and still allow for the clubs to participate in their domestic competitions. Obviously, this new league is heavily opposed by FIFA among other organizations since it threatens the existence and viability of the longstanding Champions and Europa Leagues.
We know that the twelve clubs looking to join this new ESL as “founding clubs” would be Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus. As of now, the founding twelve clubs will look to add three more permanent clubs and then five more clubs that can qualify yearly in their domestic competitions.
Notably, German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are opposed to the idea of a Super League and are skeptical about the effects it would have on the sport long term. Both clubs have publicly stated their lack of interest in joining. A quieter absentee of note is Paris-St. Germain, whose owner, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, also holds a seat on the UEFA executive committee.
Other relevant clubs have also expressed their disinterest in a new ESL. Sevilla, the defending Europa League champions, are one of the more vocal clubs on the topic. The Sevilla Board was recently quoted saying that such a league would “punish the vast majority of fans, who would be left without the essence of the sport”. Leeds United seems to share a similar sentiment after the team wore shirts during Monday’s warmup that read “Football is for the Fans” and “Champions League: Earn It”. Other clubs publicly denying their future participation include FC Porto and Ajax.
Although the new ESL has issued statements that they are prepared to fight any legal battles, UEFA has not sat back quietly. In a press conference on Monday, UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin, announced that players who participate in this new league would be disqualified from the World Cup and Euros competitions, essentially unable to play for their national teams.
The fallout from these announcements are far from over with UEFA meeting with legal teams to discuss banning Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Arsenal from their current UEFA competitions. Chelsea and Real Madrid were set to meet in a UCL semi-final in about a week. Even more news should follow with the relevant domestic leagues holding emergency meetings this week. The Premier League will not invite clubs involved in the ESL to their meeting.
When we look back, this will be a sad, chaotic, and historic week for world football.