Twelve of Europe’s biggest soccer clubs have unveiled plans to create a “European super league,” a step that threatens to shake the sport’s top competitions, including the premier leagues in England, Spain, and Italy, and extending all the way to the World Cup.
Six English clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur, along with three Italian clubs, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus, and three Spanish clubs, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid, announced plans to form a breakaway competition, dubbed the Super League in the announcement.
According to the announcement posted on the 12 clubs’ websites, the group expects to add three more clubs before the Super League’s inaugural season, which is “intended to begin as soon as practicable.”
According to the joint statement, the league will eventually have 20 clubs and will be controlled by the founding clubs.
Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and vice-chairman of the Super League said, “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.”
Politicians, fans, former players, and the sport’s regulators all immediately condemned the proposals, which would mark the most dramatic shake-up in elite European soccer in recent history.
FIFA, the world governing body for football, has condemned the Super League’s establishment, claiming that it violates FIFA’s core values of unity, inclusivity, transparency, and fair financial distribution.
“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.
FIFA said in a statement released in January that it did not accept the new Super League and that “any club or player participating in such a competition would as a result not be eligible to compete in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation.”
This will include the World Cup, which takes place every four years; the Champions League, which now brings together Europe’s best clubs every year; and any regional competitions such as the European Cup or the African Cup.
In its statement on Sunday, UEFA referred to FIFA’s earlier statement, which stated that Super League clubs “will be barred from competing in any other domestic, European, or global competition, and their players may be refused the opportunity to represent their national teams.”
Even before the official Super League announcement on Sunday, the governing body of European football, along with many other governing bodies and leagues, released a joint statement opposing the new league’s establishment. The declaration was co-signed by UEFA, the English, Spanish, and Italian governing bodies, as well as the top-flight leagues from those three countries.
“We wish to reiterate that we — UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations — will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever,” their statement reads in part. “We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sports to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.”
The Super League was established without the participation of any German or French clubs. The German Football Association (DFL) is opposed to the idea of a European Super League, according to Christian Seifert, the DFL’s CEO.
“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,” Seifert said in a statement. Seifert added that it would be “irresponsible to irreparably damage the national leagues as the basis of European professional football.”
The Super League proposal has been criticized by England’s Premier League, the most-watched soccer league in the world, as a blow to the dreams of millions of soccer fans who back smaller clubs in England and around Europe.
Any club can expect to play against the powerhouse teams at some stage under the new rules of relegation and promotion based on on-field results.