April 18, 2021: the day football died. Last week, the European football world came to a standstill as the European Super League (ESP) was announced. The concept was brought to the forefront by the president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, and was meant to pit the world's finest clubs against each other in a weekly competition.
The Super League was to feature 12 of the world’s most recognizable clubs: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Juventus, Inter Milan and A.C. Milan.
A rotating set of eight additional clubs would be included based on their performance in domestic and regional competitions.
Although the idea sounds absolutely exhilarating, it's one that is birthed from greed and goes against everything football stands for.
European football is much larger than just the top clubs. In England alone, there are 72 club teams, some worth billions and others that feature players that work multiple jobs to make ends meet. These clubs are able to stay financially afloat almost solely due to home games against big clubs, as well as their share of television deals.
Considering the fact that the teams participating in the ESP are going to be banned from their domestic competitions, these games will no longer happen. Consequently, hundreds of smaller clubs across Europe will simply cease to exist, while the teams at the top will rake in millions and form an incredibly unbalanced monopoly.
The coveted culture of traveling fans will be severely damaged. An aspect of football which is unique when compared to other sports.
The attempt by the super power clubs is also powered by an American view of sports. Arsenal, A.C. Milan, Liverpool and Manchester United all have American owners. The idea of the ESL is one born from the exclusionary and capitalistic mindsets of America.
The ESL will surely create an even larger gap between those clubs at the top and those at the bottom, a gap oddly similar to that which exists between the 1% of wealth holders and the rest of American society.
Furthermore, because of how the ESL is constructed, the clubs will be able to charge exorbitant prices for tickets to their competition, excluding fans from attending their games. For most Americans, the idea of not attending your favorites teams every game may seem completely normal. However, in Europe, many fans have a much more local and intimate connection with their teams.
Many fans are able to attend every match because live just blocks from their team's stadium. Attending every game, if not most games, is viewed as a normal thing for a dedicated fan in Europe.
The ESL will simply make this an impossibility for die-hard fans, Americanizing the sport even further.
The punishments that would be imposed upon the 12 clubs by FIFA and UEFA would be extremely detrimental to both the players and clubs participating in the ESL. UEFA and FIFA announced that all twelve clubs in the ESL will be excluded from the UEFA Champions League and their domestic leagues.
Additionally, all players who were to play in the ESL would have been banned from FIFA and UEFA international competitions such as the World Cup and the European Championship. Considering these punishments, participation in the ESL by any of these top teams would be a loss for the fans, players and owners.
Although most of the clubs have officially backed out of the ESL, the idea has been a lot longer than this past month. Since the creation of the Champions League, a similar competition to the ESL, the teams participating have often asked for tweaks to the competition and a greater percentage of the profits.
A continual battle against greed and the oppression of the common fan will be something that continues on in European football.