Twelve of Europe’s top soccer clubs have announced plans to form a so-called European Super League, in a move that looks set to rock the foundations of the sport’s top competitions, including preeminent leagues in England, Spain and Italy and extending all the way up to the World Cup.
In a joint announcement Sunday, six English clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur — alongside three teams from Italy — AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus — and three from Spain — Atlético Madrid,
Barcelona and Real Madrid — laid out plans to form a breakaway competition, referred to in the announcement as the Super League.
The group plans to add three additional clubs before the Super League’s inaugural season, which is “intended to commence as soon as is practiceable,” according to the announcement posted on the 12 clubs’ websites.
The joint statement says the league will ultimately consist of 20 clubs and be governed 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.”
The plans, which would represent the most significant shake-up of elite European soccer in recent history, was met with immediate condemnation from politicians, fans, former players and the sport’s regulators.
FIFA, the global governing body for football, denounced the formation of the Super League, saying it goes against FIFA’s core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial redistribution.
In a statement issued in January, after rumors of the new Super League began circulating, FIFA said that it would not recognize the breakaway organization and went so far as to say that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation.”
That would include soccer’s top competition, the World Cup, which is held every four years; the Champions League, which now brings together Europe’s best clubs every year, and any regional competitions like the European Cup or the African Cup.
In UEFA’s Sunday statement, it referenced FIFA’s earlier statement stressing that Super League 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.”
Even before Sunday’s official Super League announcement, European football’s governing body along with several other governing bodies and leagues issued a joint statement condemning the new league’s formation. UEFA — which oversees all European football — along with the English, Spanish, and Italian governing bodies and the top flight leagues from those three countries co-signed the statement.
“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 sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.”