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European Soccer Civil War Threatens the Future

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Apr/22/2021

The pursuit of the almighty dollar, or in this case, the pound and the Euro, has taken the European soccer world to the brink of irreparable change. Twelve of the world’s biggest and richest soccer clubs have announced plans to break away from the European Champions League and create what they call the Super League. 

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Unlike the Champions League, which offers a spot to any European club that works its way into qualification, the Super League would have permanent spots for its founding clubs. The plan is to add three more permanent members before the Super League launches, with five more spots created for qualifying teams. 

Teams Involved 

The 12 teams that have signed on as founding members are: 

English Premier League 

  • Arsenal 

  • Chelsea 

  • Liverpool 

  • Manchester City 

  • Manchester United 

  • Tottenham 

La Liga - Spain 

  • Atletico Madrid 

  • Barcelona 

  • Real Madrid 

Serie A - Italy 

  • AC Milan 

  • Inter Milan 

  • Juventus 

Why Now? 

The word from the founding clubs is that this move involves an effort to recoup lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in reality, this has been talked about for a few years, and the larger European clubs see themselves as the primary draw for fans and television money, and they want a larger share.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had this to say regarding the decision to join forces with the other 11 clubs:

“The important clubs of Spain, England, and Italy have to find a solution to this very bad situation that football is in. We came to a conclusion that by creating a Super League, instead of playing Champions League midweek, we can alleviate lost revenue.

“Football needs to evolve, like life does. Soccer needs to adapt to the times we live in. Football is losing interest. Something must be done, and the pandemic hastened that. We are all ruined.”

It’s worth noting that Real Madrid is valued at $4.75 billion, just behind Barcelona, which is valued at $4.76 billion, as the most valuable football clubs in the world. For perspective, the most valuable sports franchise in any league is the Dallas Cowboys, estimated at just over $5.5 billion. 

UEFA Changes Champions League Format 

The announcement of the Super League comes at the same time that UEFA made announcements regarding the new Champions League format, coming in 2024. The field will expand from 32 to 36 teams, and instead of playing six games against three other teams in the group stage, teams will now play a total of 10 games against what is considered a league stage.

The top eight in the league stage will automatically advance to the knockout round, with the ninth through 24th place teams competing in a two-legged playoff to take the other eight spots. 

Perez said of the new format, “With all due respect, I didn’t understand the new format, and it won’t create the necessary revenue to save football.” 

Super League Fallout 

Naturally, both UEFA and FIFA came out very strongly against the formation of the Super League, and UEFA is considering action against the 12 clubs involved, including kicking out the three Super League teams that are currently in the Champion League semifinals.

In its released statement, UEFA said, “We remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting, in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.”

The FA, the governing body of football in England, said of the plan, “It is clear that this would be damaging to English and European football at all levels and will attack the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are fundamental to competitive sport.”

Aleksander Ceferin, the president of UEFA, even went so far as to say that any player that competes in the Super League will be banned from playing for their national team in the World Cup and European Championship. However, it’s unclear if UEFA has the legal right to actually enforce such a ban. Further, how this will play out in affecting the massive futures odds boards, like those for the 2022 World Cup, remains to be seen.

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