On April 18, the European soccer community was shaken to its core when it was announced that 12 of the biggest clubs in Europe would be breaking away to form the European Super League, ending the competitive structure of the game all for the pockets of 12 greedy owners.
Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC, Liverpool FC, Juventus FC, and seven more of the most well-known clubs in the world founded the Super League. Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid, was due to be the chairman of the Super League, with owners from other clubs named vice-chairmen.
Talks of a European Super League have been rumored for decades. In theory, the top clubs across Europe would create a league in which they would compete against each other every week. Due to the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, these top clubs have been hit with large amounts of debt, giving the owners an excuse to finally propose this idea.
Quickly following the news, UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, and many other domestic leagues, condemned the formation of the Super League, issuing a statement that if the clubs went through with this proposal, there would be major punishments.
Television pundits, fans, and even players and managers took to the press and social media to express their disgust at the proposal. A Sky Sports commentator, Gary Neville, who played for Manchester United for 19 seasons, labeled the formation of the league as an act of “pure greed.”
In the end, the proposal of the European Super League is an act of “Americanizing” the European game. European soccer is so unique because of the opportunity for any team to win it all. The promotion and relegation system across European soccer is not seen within American sports, and it allows for teams’ successes to be rewarded and teams’ failures to be punished.
After the upheaval from fans, many within the Super League, most notably the English clubs, were the first to apologize to their fans and withdraw from the proposal just three days after the news broke on April 18.
The Super League responded by saying they will need to reshape the project, as they still believe it will enhance the experience of European soccer.
Fans across Europe, particularly in England, have continued to express their disapproval of their owner’s wishes. Large protests outside stadiums have occurred, and on May 2, Manchester United against Liverpool was canceled due to United fans storming Old Trafford in protest of their owners.
This fiasco has shown the power that soccer fans still have in shaping the game. As the famous saying across Europe goes, “Football is nothing without fans.”