Sports

Why the European Super League never stood a chance


Fans across the world reacted with enthusiasm as the Super League fell apart. Here’s why a breakaway league never had a shot.

The fans made their voices heard over the past two days against the idea of a European Super League limited to just elite clubs.

The controversial project unraveled on Tuesday after most of the 12 teams involved, starting with Chelsea, began to pull out just two days after the breakaway league had been announced much to UEFA’s shock.

The plan unleashed widespread condemnation from fans and Europe’s soccer governing body who threatened sanctions against the clubs. Those sanctions would have included banning them from domestic competitions, with support from various national football associations, and even the upcoming Champions League semifinals.

It’s true that UEFA thwarted the effort with its tough talk, but it was fans across England and much of Europe who made their voices heard against the greedy plan. In what amounted to an existential crisis for the world’s most popular sport since Sunday, the reality is the ESL never had a shot.

ESL would have destroyed the game

Had the Super League taken off, the game as we know it would have been forever destroyed. The revenue-sharing agreements tied to TV rights make it so that the rich clubs, with their star players and popularity, can help mid-tier and lower level teams survive. It helped that other Premier League teams took to the field over the last few days protesting such a move.

What these greedy teams didn’t bank on was the history, tradition and power of the fans that make up these clubs.

These teams aren’t like NFL franchises where owners unilaterally make decisions and often break the hearts of fans by trading away players or even relocating to another city.

Owners neglected the power and passion of fans

Soccer doesn’t work this way. The owners of these mega-wealthy teams, many of whom are Americans, are so far removed from the tradition, history and the fans that they didn’t realize what their decision would unleash.

The Super League’s aim was to wall off the world’s best teams and make it so that all the money would go to them. The hell with everyone else. Instead, as the developments of the last two days grew to a crescendo, it was the fans and the game that won over for now.

UEFA is indeed a monopoly and they have their faults. Nonetheless, the big teams need to work within the framework already put in place. Instead of dominating the Champions League with results on the field, they decided to take their ball and create their own competition.

Players and coaches were never consulted

The other thing these clubs didn’t realize is the importance of the players and coaches. You know, the very people who make the game go. No one asked them.

It’s why Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp condemned the ESL’s creation. it’s why so many players, former and current, also criticized the plan.

The fact that the clubs, spearheaded by the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, made this surprise announcement as the game continues to reel as a result of the pandemic was a clear money grab.

It’s also likely that players were not interested in playing club soccer in a rogue league and risk being banned from this summer’s European Championship or even the 2022 World Cup should FIFA had followed through on their own threats.

No one can sympathize with billionaires who complain they want, and need, even more money.

European soccer now has to heal. All sides need to come to the table and work out something that works for everyone. The fallout will continue over the coming days and weeks.

After all, it’s the game that risks forever being altered. These owners now know that the power they once wielded has been diminished over the last few days.



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