In an announcement that has sparked both celebration and angry condemnation in the world of European soccer, 12 major clubs have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL), which will rival the current Champions League competition, one of the biggest and most lucrative club tournaments in world soccer.
Of the 12 clubs to sign up, six of them are from the English Premier League. Known as the “Big Six,” they are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham. Joining these English clubs are Italy’s AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus, as well as Spain’s Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid.
These 12 clubs are known as the “founding clubs,” and are looking to develop a new midweek competition which would run concurrently with ongoing national leagues and championships. The ESL would have 20 teams in total, with three more “founding members” set to join. The “founding” members would be permanent fixtures in the tournament, and would not face relegation. The remaining five teams would be required to qualify for each year’s tournament.
The driving force behind this decision appears to be money, with the founding clubs reportedly being attracted by a share of over $4 billion. In addition, the BBC reported that the ESL is offering “uncapped solidarity payments” to European football, “which will be higher than those generated by current European competitions,” arguing that the new tournament “will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment.”
The plan has sparked anger among several soccer organizations. The English Premier League said that the plan “attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit,” while FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, argued that the move goes against their core principles of “solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial redistribution.”
“FIFA can only express its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles,” FIFA said in a statement.
This sentiment was supported by UEFA, which oversees all European soccer, adding that ESL clubs “will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.”
“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way,” the statement added.
No French or German clubs have yet joined the ESL. Christian Seifert, CEO of the German Football Association (DFL), stated that the DFL opposes the EFL, saying “Economic interest of a few top clubs in England, Italy, and Spain should not lead to the abolishment of established structures in European football as a consequence.”
Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and vice-chairman of the proposed Super League, is one figure who is vocally in favor of the proposals.
“By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid,” he said in a statement.
According to reports, the proposed tournament is being financed by JP Morgan.
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