The bomb exploded Sunday evening, or early Monday morning, it depends. While the rumor had swelled as the day went on, twelve major European clubs formalized the launch of the Super League, a private competition doomed to supplant the Champions League. Twelve giants: AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham. Twelve heavyweights of world football who weigh 41 Champions League in 65 editions, just that. Yes but now, they no longer want this C1 in which they shone. And they took the plunge, in favor of a semi-closed competition which would oppose each season fifteen permanent clubs and five guests.
To the chagrin of UEFA and its president Aleksander Ceferin who spoke of “a shameful proposal” from a few clubs “guided by greed”, this Monday, in a press conference, after the executive committee of the body adopted the new formula of C1 (from 2024) which will be based on 36 clubs (instead of 32) in a kind of mid -championship. Reform which obviously did not satisfy the twelve dissidents. On the contrary, for the moment, Bayern Munich (six titles in C1), as well as, to a lesser extent, Paris SG, publicly thanked for their loyalty. What about that of FIFA? “Infantino has promised me his strongest support. He’s against the Super League. He will say it tomorrow (Tuesday, Editor’s note) “, assures Ceferin, while the antagonism between the European and international federations is common knowledge.
The twelve giants on one side, the authorities on the other, each one tries to show his muscles. While a legal standoff is to be expected, in particular concerning the compliance or not of the Super League with European competition law. The secessionists say they have seized, as a preventive measure, “the competent courts” to ensure the existence of their Super League.
On the side of UEFA, threats are erupting. In particular those of exclusion of players participating in this Super League, who “will be banned” from international competitions such as the World Cup or the Euro and “will not be able to represent their national team,” said Ceferin. A dissuasion which caused a reaction, starting with Fifpro, the players’ union, which “would oppose” these possible private measures and which regrets that the players are “used as assets and levers in these negotiations”.
It’s no secret. Behind this Super League project hide amazing financial interests for already very rich clubs. “The founding clubs will receive a one-off payment of the order of 3.5 billion euros intended solely for infrastructure investments and offset the impact of the covid-19 crisis,” said the clubs press release. dissidents whose project is financed by the American bank JPMorgan.
If this figure becomes reality, it assumes higher revenues than those obtained by UEFA for all of its club competitions (Champions League, Europa League and European Supercup), which had generated 3.2 billion euros. euros in TV revenue in 2018-2019. Even if the European body weighs heavy, evidenced by its 2019-2020 budget of around 5.72 billion euros.
The aim of the group of twelve is to create a more lucrative competition based on gargantuan TV rights. In a sport where money is king, this comes as no surprise. However, the Super League goes beyond the single financial question, to encompass those of the values of sport, sporting equity, interpersonal skills, solidarity mechanisms …
Already, many clubs and players, including some belonging to separatist clubs like Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) and Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), have stood up, headlong, to support the Champions League, a competition that rocked their dreams. and considered the most beautiful in the world. And the rejection seems unanimous among public opinion. Like the Liverpool supporters who did not wait long to display banners of opposition to the choice of their club: “Shame on you, rest in peace LFC 1892-2021”. The breaks are increasing in the world of football and the soap opera is far from being closed between big clubs and big bodies.
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