European Super League
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.”
State of the Olympics: Tokyo 2021
International Competitions to be held in Summer 2021
by Leo Hainline ’22
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, there was an eerie point in time when the entire sporting world went on pause. While many sporting events were canceled altogether, some major events were postponed to the summer of 2021. This includes the quadrennial Olympic Games and the European Championships (Euros) for soccer.
Although no one knows when stadiums will be packed with fans again, both of these competitions are expected to take place regardless. Even without fans, watching both of these historic competitions will add some quality entertainment to next summer.
Indeed, the Tokyo Olympics will happen next year under any circumstances. According to the International Olympics Committee (IOC), the opening events are planned for July 23, while the closing day is set to be Aug. 8. The IOC is branding it as the “Games that Conquered COVID.” All eyes will be on Japan to see what measures will be implemented in order to host the Games successfully.
Officials have yet to determine whether spectators will be allowed to attend. They are also considering simplifying the opening and closing ceremonies in addition to reducing the number of staff and delegates from each nation. Over 200 countries intended on participating in the Tokyo Olympics prior to the pandemic, but Japan still has strict travel restrictions on most foreign nations.
The 11,000 foreigners entering the country will certainly require constant testing, but the fact that the Games are held in one city will be an advantage logistically. The Olympic Games have a tradition of being held regardless of ongoing global challenges, with the only cancellations in its history due to World War I and World War II.
As for the Euros, one of the biggest tournaments in the world of soccer, the competition is expected to take place from June 11 to July 11 in 12 different host cities. These cities include London, Baku, Munich, Rome, Saint Petersburg, Amsterdam, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, and Glasgow. Usually the tournament is hosted by one or two European nations, but this year it was originally intended to be hosted across the continent to honor the tournament’s 60th anniversary.
Soccer has seen all of its major leagues restart amid the pandemic without a bubble system akin to the ones used in the United States. The Euros are expected to proceed smoothly without one as well.
20 of the 24 teams participating have already been decided, with the remaining qualification games occurring on Nov. 22 for the final four teams. Italy is set to play Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the tournament’s opening match on June 11. Like the Olympics, the status of fans at the stadiums has yet to be determined. While most soccer matches have been played without any fans in attendance, some countries have recently begun to allow in-person viewings.
Even with the United Kingdom being one of the hardest-hit countries during the pandemic, Wembley Stadium in London is set to host the finale of the tournament. The Premier League was planning on reintroducing fans in early October, but a recent uptick in the U.K.’s case counts has pushed back that initiative indefinitely.
While still many months away, it will be interesting to see how both of these major sporting events will be impacted by the ongoing pandemic.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go: PC Students Take Learning Outside the Classroom During Maymesters
by Kelly Martella ’21
Many students spend time traveling during the summer vacation; others continue their studies and take courses during the break. Maymesters provide students the opportunity to do both of these things — all within the first few weeks of summer.
This year, Providence College offered two programs — one in Europe, and one in Africa.
A Maymester is generally a six-week course: five full days of class on campus, 10-14 days travelling abroad, and a few weeks upon return to work on an independent research project.
The programs can be a bit of a whirlwind due to the condensed time frame, but it is a fair trade considering the material is equivalent to that covered in a 14-week semester. Maymesters can also be great options for students who do not want to spend a full semester studying abroad or are unable to do so, with past participants calling them “incredible,” “fascinating,” and “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Since the program’s introduction in, courses have covered a variety of topics and reached many destinations, ranging from the Road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and Portugal to the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Each course is taught by a group of professors across different disciplines, allowing students to explore a topic from many angles and develop a more complete perspective.
For example, Margaret Manchester, professor of history, Eric Bennett, professor of English, and Eric Sung, professor of art and art history, led this year’s trip entitled U.S. and the Cold War in Eastern Europe.
The group traveled to Germany, Poland, and Hungary, visiting sites like the Berlin Wall, the Gdansk Solidarity Shipyards, the Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science, and the thermal baths in Budapest.
While the main focus of the course was history, students could also fulfill the fine arts requirement. Students learned about photography both on campus and abroad, and most completed a digital storytelling project upon returning from the trip.
Another Maymester group traveled to Ghana as part of the course Sustainability and Social Values: Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving. The program started when the late Dr. Stephen J. Mecc, Ph.D. ’64 & ’66G took research students to Ghana in 2010.
The trip became a yearly event under Dr. Mecca, as students problem-solved and applied their solutions to real world issues. One year, for instance, they developed a flushing-valve toilet that required less than a cup of water. Students across majors were involved in the project. Some engineered the toilet, others translated the instruction manual, and others worked in educating the community.
Since Dr. Mecca’s passing in 2018, his legacy has continued to live on in the Ghanaian community. A book drive was held on campus during the spring, and donations were brought to schoolchildren in Ghana.
This year, professor Comfort M. Ateh accompanied the program and documented the group’s experience in real-time on Twitter.
Six of the students were recipients of the Gallo Global Health Fellowship, a fund established by Robert C. Gallo, M.D. ’59 & ’74Hon. and his wife, Mary Jane Gallo, for annual service-oriented summer internships for students from multiple academic disciplines in clinical settings in the United States and abroad. Dr. Gallo is globally renowned for his breakthrough discoveries in HIV research, something the Fellows saw firsthand when they participated in HIV testing and counseling program.
The Maymester course offerings for 2020 will see programs in Cuba, England, Italy, and South Korea.