The creation of a European Super League, an idea that began to develop in 2009, became a reality twelve years later that might signal the end of football as we know it.
Or — as the majority of fans around Europe loudly shouted to the heavens yesterday, it may mean the end of football — period.
The twelve teams that decided to form the European Super League as an elite championship have enraged millions of football fans, as well as former players and coaches.
The founding – and governing – members of the European Super League are AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.
Large clubs with a long and illustrious history such as Bayern, Ajax, Paris Saint Germain, Benfica and others refused to join this elite group, claiming that a closed league would destroy the joy of football.
The big money
It is all about money, of course. JP Morgan has been raising investment funds for a year now. The twelve founders of the group are said to guarantee a 6 billion euro start-up bonus and another 3.5 billion for infrastructure.
The structure of the League will be like that of the NBA: The founders will decide everything – especially the distribution of money.
In addition, the founders look for eight more clubs to join so they will have a 20-team league, or two separate leagues of ten each.
It is estimated that the clubs of the European Super League will be receiving a minimum of 260 million euros per year for the next five years.
All twelve clubs plan to continue to participate in the national league of their country — but this is where UEFA and FIFA draw the line and threaten to not allow even that. They are also threatening that players in the European Super League will not be allowed to play for their national team.
The greed of the major clubs
In essence, what is happening is that the owners of the big clubs want to make more money out of their investment. And the timing is right, now that the coronavirus has “robbed” a chunk of their annual profits.
However, the reality of the sport at the moment is that the little guys are the ones who have been hurt the most by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s just that the big guys have now found the right timing to launch the new League. After all, the global television market brings in much more profits than local television rights and attendance in the big club arenas.
Asia, Africa and, to a lesser extent, the United States, are giant TV markets where elite European football is massively popular.
Football fans in these countries will foam at the mouth with the promise that they will be watching giants playing against each other every week for a whole season.
And while Britain’s Premier League is the most commercial championship in the world, the paricipation of the six biggest clubs in the European Super League makes the new project more enticing to the global TV market.
The little guys
In the history of the world, it is always the powerful that determine the game. This time the powerful players in international football are making the rules.
So why share the big money with the little guys? Why should a small or medium-sized club in the UEFA Champions League take a part of the profit? Why shouldn’t the big clubs hoard all the money?
It is a sad reality, as are the quarantines, the coronavirus threat, the shutting down of small businesses, social isolation and many other things that no one could think of a couple of decades ago.
“Against Modern Football”
The “Against Modern Football” grass roots movement that has been against the notion of “profit before the love of the sport” has now been vindicated.
Football is the most popular sport in the world. That was true before it became big business from the mid-1990s and onward.
Football is far more than watching a game. It is connected with countless rituals, traditions, customs and behavior in society.
It is the love for the jersey and the team’s emblem, the talk before the game and the analysis afterward, it is going to the match with your friends, it is celebrating the win with them, or sharing tears after a loss.
It is the love for the club that the father passes to the son, as his own father did for him. It is the anticipation of a big game, it is teasing your rival team friends before or after a match.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) have roundly condemned the forming of the European Super League. France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson also opposed the project openly.
Football is, as Greek sportscaster Christos Sotirakopoulos put it, “the most important secondary thing in one’s life.”
After all, in Greece we say that one can change his religious beliefs and switch parties and sides in politics, but we will never switch football teams.
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