She will have lived 48 hours. The Super League, launched Sunday by twelve European football clubs, disappeared as quickly as it came under pressure from governing bodies, politicians, and supporters. This Wednesday, April 21, only two teams out of the twelve have not yet withdrawn.
Return in three acts on a stillborn project.
Act I: The explosion
After several months of rumors, twelve European football clubs announced the creation of a Super League on Sunday evening, April 18, a closed championship made up of the best clubs in Europe.
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Among the “mutinous” clubs, six are based in England, three in Spain and three in Italy: AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham. PSG and Bayern Munich, two major European clubs, have not joined the project.
This shattering decision takes UEFA, the European association of football clubs, by surprise. It must indeed present the next day its major reform of the Champions League (also called C1), the most prestigious European competition with which the Super League now competes.
But the latter, a closed competition and reserved for the biggest teams, is not exempt from criticism. Main complaint: it would establish a de facto inequality between “small” clubs, less wealthy and less exposed, and “big” clubs. Indeed, the current C1 sometimes allows teams of more modest level to integrate the Champions League following good results at the national level. These clubs also obtain part of the TV revenues, in accordance with the redistribution mechanism in force.
Act II: Critics from all sides
This is why shortly after this announcement, the sports authorities are screaming scandal. In a press release, UEFA states its willingness to fight “ a cynical project, based on the personal interests of a small number of clubs at a time when society has never needed more solidarity “. She also brandishes the threat of exclusion for dissidents: “ The clubs concerned will be banned from national, European and world competitions. “
On the political side, the same indignation. In France, the Minister for Sports Roxana Maracineanu castigates a “VIP club of a powerful few”. The Elysée denounces for its part a project “ threatening the principle of solidarity and sporting merit ”.
Hands off my Champions League!
Fans and gamers are also making their voices heard. “It is a decision motivated by greed to line the pockets of leaders and taken without consideration for loyal supporters, our history or the future of football in this country.”, denounces the Chelsea Supporters Foundation. That of Arsenal ensures that it will “All she can to oppose it”. Same disgust among representatives of Manchester United fans who urge their club to “Withdraw immediately”.
Even the players of Liverpool, a rebel club, have shown their hostility to the project by issuing a joint statement against their employer. Gérard Piqué, Barcelona captain, insists that “Football belongs to the fans”.
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Monday evening, a match between Leeds and Liverpool is also an opportunity for the players to express their hostility towards this project. Before the match, the Leeds players all wear t-shirts with the slogan “Football belongs to the fans”. An airplane pulling a banner with the inscription “#SayNoToSuperLeague” (“Say no to the Super League”) even flies over the stadium.
Act III: The secessionist clubs do their mea culpa
Cornered by the pressure, the secessionist clubs quickly backtracked with “mea culpa” blows. Manchester City were the first to give in on Tuesday evening, announcing in a statement that they had “Formally launched the procedure to withdraw from the group responsible for developing the European Super League project”.
Then the other English clubs – Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and finally Chelsea – nip the project in the bud. US Liverpool owner John Henry even posts apology video “For the disorder caused during the last 48 hours”, saying to himself “Solely responsible” of the situation.
Deprived of the six English clubs which represented half of the delegation, other clubs have no choice but to follow them. Atlético Madrid, the first Spanish club to resign, followed suit, before Inter Milan on the Italian side.
Andrea Agnelli, one of the figures of secession, can only face the facts: for the president of Juventus, the project cannot exist without the six English clubs, made his entourage flee.
This Wednesday, April 21 in the afternoon, only Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have not yet withdrawn. It is “Admirable to admit a mistake, and these clubs made a big mistake”, emphasizes Aleksander Ceferin, the boss of UEFA.
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With their backs to the wall, the promoters of the Super League have already issued a statement similar to a pause in their project, in the middle of the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, announcing that they were going “Reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project”. A proof, if one was still needed, that the project was still born.
This outcome was greeted in particular by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter, who had promised that he would not hesitate to use the legislative option to prevent this controversial project:
“This is the right outcome for football fans, clubs and communities across the country. We must continue to protect this national sport that we cherish ”.