When I was scrolling through my Instagram feed last week, I noticed a recurring pattern of posts on my friends’ stories: protests against the formation of the European Super League.
“FANS BEFORE FINANCE,” one sign read.
“FOOTBALL BELONGS TO US NOT YOU,” read another.
I have to be honest with you, I’m not a die-hard football — soccer, for Americans — enthusiast. I’m familiar with most of the teams in the Union of European Football Associations, but I hadn’t heard about the European Super League. I was curious to know what it was and why it had caused such a backlash among football fans and followers.
The new super league — consisting of Europe’s 12 most powerful leading clubs — was announced April 18. Essentially, these 12 clubs would break off from the UEFA to form their own midweek league.
For context, European football is universal and inclusive in a way that U.S. sports teams are not. For example, the NBA is a professional league that is composed of 30 teams that can play every year. On the other hand, there are 32 slots for teams to play in the Champions League, but only if they qualify first. As such, participation in elite competitions is based on merit and past rankings.
As a result, the foundations of European football allow smaller clubs to be on the same playing field as more successful ones. The smaller clubs may not have the best odds at winning, but there is an equal chance to participate in the Champions League and a possibility for these clubs to advance up the football pyramid.
So, the creation of the European Super League undermines the integrity of the sport itself.
But why would these major football clubs agree to form a new league that goes against the integrity of the sport?
It’s all about money, apparently — at least, that’s what critics think.
JP Morgan Chase has committed 3.25 billion Euros to finance the league, in addition to the 200-300 million Euro “welcome bonus” each team will receive, according to an article by The Guardian.
The 12 clubs separating from the UEFA also means the new league is walling off from the other European leagues. Those 12 teams are permanent members and can participate in the League regardless of how they perform, meaning smaller teams would be sidelined and have a much harder time entering the League.
This could upend — or even ultimately destroy — other teams.
Perhaps the creation of the European Super League was to remedy the real panic sports executives felt when revenue was declining during the pandemic.
However, the decision to form the Super League not only undermines the principles of European football, but also demonstrates our faults and vices as humans. It shows how most of us choose money over values, which can ultimately hurt those who care about us.
In the words of UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, “selfishness is replacing solidarity. Money has become more important than glory, greed more important than loyalty, and dividends more important than passion.”
I couldn’t agree more.