For the Love of the Game
The proposed Super League or European Super League appears to have fallen apart as abruptly as it was announced a few days ago but not before shocking the football world, disappointing the fans and above all tainting the integrity of the game. Believed to be floated to topple the Champions League, the multi-billion-dollar tournament was supposed to be a closed group of 20 teams consisting of 15 founding members that will permanently feature in the competition while the remaining slots will be filled by clubs based on their performance in domestic leagues. It is reported that each team would receive a whopping $400 million on joining the new league as well as huge funds for infrastructure. Most of the big clubs in European football, namely Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur from England, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan were in the breakaway group. The idea may appeal to most clubs, especially those that have been badly affected by the ongoing pandemic but if materialised, it will be at the expense of the intrinsic values of the game that the football lovers around the world hold dear. There may be pros to the plan too but the game can’t be sacrificed at the altar of economic security of the participating clubs.
The move sparked massive backlash from all quarters – fans, former players, political leaders. World football governing body Fifa expressed its disapproval to the proposed competition, European football governing body UEFA, English Football Association, the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), LaLiga, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A released a joint statement, saying that they would “remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project”, which they termed as “self-interest of a few clubs”. Following the backlash, several clubs have pulled out of the breakaway Super League and some have apologised to their fans and supporters for causing anguish and disappointing them by their move, thus leaving only a few that have not issued a public statement.
European football is no longer limited to Europe today. It has huge fans following from across the world, including India and Nagaland state, which is why broadcasters from almost all the countries pay in terms of millions of dollars for its broadcasting rights, not forgetting the merchandise market of some big clubs mushrooming even in small towns. This fabric of football is woven upon decades of intense competition between the clubs. This is why the breakaway plan united lovers of the game from across the globe in condemnation. The governing body of the Champions League should retrospect and look into the benefits of the participating clubs but the latest attempt to strangle sporting competition and reduce the game into a profiteering tool can’t be justified. Reforms can be brought about if needed and according to the changing times but moves that will take away the beauty of the game called football should be nipped in the bud.