MEPs’ sports group condemns controversial plans for new football super league

‘The proposed closed competition of super rich clubs would form a privileged caste outside of the structures of European club football, with no other purpose than making profit’

Bayern Munich were the champions of the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League. They are not part of the 12 founding clubs of the ESL
Bayern Munich were the champions of the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League. They are not part of the 12 founding clubs of the ESL

The European Parliament’s Sports Group this morning added its voice to the growing chorus of outrage over of the prospective creation of a new super league comprising 12 of Europe’s top flight football teams.

The EP’s Sports Group has joined UEFA, national associations and leagues, players’ unions and politicians in “condemning” an attempt by a “small group of elite football clubs planning to form a breakaway closed super league in European football” that is focussed on profits alone.

Plans by the 12 clubs - AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur  – to create a ‘European Super League (ESL) that will rival UEFA’s Champion’s League have been met with widespread condemnation.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new league would “strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country.  The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps."

French President Emmanuel Macron said, "The president of the Republic welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate to a European football Super League project that threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit."

The Italian and Spanish governments are believed to be on a similar train of thought and appear poised, along with the UK, to take some sort of action.

The announcement came just a day before UEFA was due to unveil plans for an expanded and restructured Champions League tournament.

In January, FIFA and UEFA had threatened to ban any ‘super league’ players from international tournaments, including from the World Cup, a position which the EU supported and was echoed in a statement by UEFA on Sunday.

In reaction to the weekend news, the EP Sports Group had some of the harshest words against the prospective ESL.  In a statement released on Twitter on Monday morning the Group explained how, “The proposed closed competition of super rich clubs would form a privileged caste outside of the structures of European club football, with no other purpose than making profit.”

The 12 clubs said they anticipated that another three teams would join them as founding members. The new league, they said, would kick-off as soon as conceivably possible.

The proposed redesign of European football would have significant consequences for smaller teams in that entry to the super league would be restricted. Instead of an open competition-based entry method, the league would provide the 15 founding clubs guaranteed places in a closed league, irrespective of their performance throughout the year.

The EP’s Sports Group lambasted the prospect, insisting that, “Protecting the interests of the few to the detriment of the general interest makes no sense, in sport as elsewhere, and goes against the values defended by the Sports Group of the European Parliament.”

The ESL’s website, however, pledges to transform competition football by offering huge payments to clubs from outside their ranks who fill one of five qualifying spots each year to join the foundation clubs in the tournament.

“Solidarity payments will grow in line with league revenues and are expected to be in excess of EUR10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the founders,” according to the website.  “These solidarity payments will follow a new model with full transparency and regular public reporting.”

Such words provide little comfort for the EP’s Sports Group, which insists how, “Football competitions in Europe serve wider objectives of sporting principles and societal interest, not privilege and self-entitlement to disproportionate revenue. Our model is founded on solidarity and redistribution to ensure the sustainability and development of the game for the benefit of all and the promotion of European values and social outcomes.

“At a time when sport is undergoing such uncertainty, the European Sports Group of the European Parliament stands committed to protect and strengthen the established framework of the European sports model.”

The EP’s Sport’s Group is co-chaired by MEPs Marc Tarabella and Tomasz Frankowski.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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