This week, the proposed European Super League has caused a whirlwind within football. On Sunday it was announced that 12 teams in Europe, 6 of which play in the English Premier League, would join as founding clubs. However, within 48 hours of the announcement, backlash from all corners of the football community have caused the plans to completely crumble.
So what has been said to make the club owners change their minds?
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, spoke out against the league and said that it was “a lot to throw away for maybe the short-term financial gain of some”. UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin, also criticised the ESL and declared that any players involved would be banned from playing in World Cups and European Championships. He directed his thoughts towards the club owners saying that “money has become more important than glory, greed more important than loyalty, and dividends more important than passion.”
Football fans from all clubs have been outraged and social media has been bombarded with protests, discussions and angry comment sections. Pictures have been circulating of fans outside stadiums brandishing signs saying “No to Super League” and hanging banners from the gates of grounds to illustrate their disgust to their beloved clubs. Manchester United fans have argued that the club was dishonouring Sir Matt Busby and remarked at the irony of the owners’ actions as a banner currently up in their stadium quotes “Football is nothing without fans”.
Noticeable opposition has been vocalised by pundit Gary Neville who branded the European Super League as “absolutely disgusting” and “scandalous” on Sky Sports. His words have also been backed up by many other football show hosts such as Gary Lineker who has expressed his relief at the cancellation of the league by tweeting “We’ve got our ball back.” Not only have football show hosts expressed their thoughts on the ESL but on The Late Late Show with James Cordon in America, James called out the actions of club owners in Europe and said that “they don’t care about anybody but themselves”.
Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool Football Club, said that he was kept in the dark with regards to his team joining the ESL, even though lots of criticism had been directed towards him and the players. Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, claimed that “it is not sport” and expressed his desire for the teams to remain in a competitive league. Many former Premier League managers have also chimed in on the protests including Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger – very influential names in the world of football.
On Monday, Liverpool played Leeds in the Premier League and, during the warm up, the Leeds squad wore t-shirts expressing their opposition to the ESL that read “Earn it!” on the front and “Football is for the fans” on the back. Post-game interview with James Milner revealed his thoughts towards the proposed plans in which he said “I don’t like it one bit”. Many other players have illustrated similar views such as Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Mesut Ozil and Bruno Fernandes amongst others.
On top of opposition within the sport itself, there were also talks within the British government surrounding the European Super League and even from Prince William. Boris Johnson condemned the idea and said that he would consider passing legislation that could stop the English clubs from entering. The Prime Minister’s words were further supported by the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, who claimed there’d be no opposition in Parliament to these bills.
The owners of the proposed Super League clubs clearly did not anticipate such an alarming response to the new league as Joel Glazer, Manchester United Co-Chairman, said that it would “open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities…” The backlash has shown that this new league would completely change the English game with the absence of 6 big teams and the potential for English players and beyond to be banned from playing for their international squads.
Now that all 6 of the Premier League teams that were involved with the European Super League have withdrawn, it is time for the owners to truly apologise to their fans and to make it up to all of their players.
Written by: Hannah McCann
Edited by: Lois George
Header by: Annabel Smith