Soccer

European Super League explained: Premier League clubs leave project; teams in and out; latest news, reactions

European soccer was rocked by the biggest story in at least a generation when 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs announced plans to break away from the established soccer order and form a Super League. The development originally looked like it could remake the European soccer landscape dramatically, but it now looks like it might completely crumble. As of Tuesday evening, less than 48 hours after the official announcement of the league, all six of the Premier League clubs in the Super League — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham — had announced intentions to leave the project.

Atletico Madrid are rumored to be wanting out as well, according to Ben Jacobs

The basics on the deal struck before the fallout? A group of 12 clubs from across Europe’s biggest leagues announced plans to form a new competition called the Super League. The league, should it be established, would offer permanent spots to some of the world’s biggest clubs and play matches midweek, while allowing the involved clubs to remain in their domestic competitions. This plan is currently opposed by FIFA and UEFA, the governing bodies for international and European soccer, respectively.

Here’s what else we do know so far:

Latest news

In a stunning turn of events, Chelsea became the first team to back out of their Super League deal, CBS Sports insider James Benge confirmed. Manchester City made an announcement soon thereafter, and the other four Premier League clubs followed suit Tuesday night. The sudden reversals pose a huge challenge to the breakaway group’s continued chances to succeed in their endeavor and also ends speculation about whether their Champions League semifinal run in this year’s tournament can continue.

Danish FA chairman and UEFA member Jesper Møller originally said to Danish outlet DR Sport that Champions League semifinalists involved in the Super League would be expelled from this season’s competition. However, Real Madrid is the only semifinalist still attached to the Super League project.

UEFA wrapped up its election held for positions on UEFA executive committee and FIFA council in Montreux, Switzerland, and the 55 member associations unanimously approved a declaration strongly condemning the Super League on Tuesday. FIFA president Gianni Infantino, a former UEFA general secretary, was in attendance and warned the 12 breakaway clubs that they could not be “half in, half out.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who earlier this week called those execs involved in breakaway plans “snakes” and a “spit in the face of football lovers,” declared European soccer’s governing body as “unbeatable” when allied with FIFA before challenging the Premier League’s big six to make the difference.

“For some, supporters have become consumers, fans have become customers and competitions have become products,” Ceferin said. “Selfishness is replacing solidarity. Money has become more important than glory, greed more important than loyalty, and dividends more important than passion.”  

Meanwhile, the 14 Premier League clubs not involved in the initial proposal held an emergency meeting and “unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition.” Sky Sports reports that one board member from a Premier League team involved in breaking away has warned they will not “back down,” but has been told splits are emerging.

The group of 12 teams responded earlier on Monday by sending a letter to FIFA and UEFA leaders, informing them that the Super League has already taken legal action to protect anyone looking to block their competition. The Associated Press obtained the following letter:

“We are concerned that FIFA and UEFA may respond to this invitation letter by seeking to take punitive measures to exclude any participating club or player from their respective competitions

“Your formal statement does, however, compel us to take protective steps to secure ourselves against such an adverse reaction, which would not only jeopardize the funding commitment under the Grant but, significantly, would be unlawful. For this reason, SLCo (Super League Company) has filed a motion before the relevant courts in order to ensure the seamless establishment and operation of the Competition in accordance with applicable laws.

“It is our duty, as SLCo’s board members, to ensure that all reasonable actions available to protect the interests of the Competition and our stakeholders are duly taken, given the irreparable damage that would be suffered if, for any reason, we were deprived of the opportunity to form promptly the Competition and distribute the proceeds of the Grant.”

Want to hear more about the Super League proposals? Listen below as Luis Miguel Echegaray, Jonathan Johnson and Jimmy Conrad break down the latest, and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.

What is the Super League?

The Super League is a long-discussed idea for a closed competition that would feature Europe’s biggest clubs. Over the years, there have been many different theoretical proposals for what that league would look like. On Sunday, 12 clubs announced their intention to break away from Europe’s governing body, UEFA, and form their own league. They plan to add three more permanent members and leave five spots open in the 20-team format that European clubs could qualify for from across Europe’s domestic competitions.

Which teams are involved?

Here are the 12 teams who were listed as founding members:

  • Arsenal (have asked to leave agreement)
  • Chelsea (have asked to leave agreement)
  • Liverpool (have asked to leave agreement) 
  • Manchester City (have asked to leave agreement)
  • Manchester United (have asked to leave agreement)
  • Tottenham Hotspur (have asked to leave agreement)
  • Atletico Madrid (have reportedly asked to leave agreement)
  • Barcelona 
  • Real Madrid 
  • AC Milan 
  • Inter Milan 
  • Juventus 

Which notable teams were not included?

Paris Saint-Germain: “Paris Saint-Germain holds the firm belief that football is a game for everyone. I have been consistent on this since the very beginning. As a football club, we are a family and a community; whose fabric is our fans — I believe we shouldn’t forget this,” said Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the head of Qatar Sports Investments, which owns and operates PSG, and also holds a seat in the UEFA executive committee.

”There is a clear need to advance the existing UEFA competition model, presented by UEFA yesterday and concluding 24 months of extensive and collaborative consultation across the whole European football landscape. We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA — an organization that has been working to progress the interests of European football for nearly 70 years — does not resolve the issues currently facing the football community, but is instead driven by self-interest. Paris Saint-Germain will continue to work with UEFA, the European Club Association (ECA) and all stakeholders of the football family — based on the principles of good faith, dignity and respect for all.”  

FC Bayern Munich: “Our members and fans reject a Super League,” club president Herbert Hainer said. “As FC Bayern, it is our wish and our aim that European clubs live the wonderful and emotional competition that is the Champions League, and develop it together with UEFA. FC Bayern says no to the Super League.”

“On behalf of the board, I would like to make it explicitly clear that FC Bayern will not be taking part in the Super League,” said CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who has taken Juventus president Andrea Agnelli’s seat at ECA and is expected to do the same at UEFA.  “FC Bayern stands in solidarity with the Bundesliga. It always was and is a great pleasure for us to be able to play and represent Germany in the Champions League. We all remember fondly our 2020 Champions League victory in Lisbon – you don’t forget such a joyful moment. For FC Bayern, the Champions League is the best club competition in the world.”

Borussia Dortmund: ”The board members of the European Club Association (ECA) came together for a virtual meeting on Sunday evening, where it was agreed that the board’s decision from last Friday still stands,” Dortmund chief executive officer Hans Joachim Watzke said. “This decision dictates that all clubs wish to implement the proposed reforms to the UEFA Champions League. The ECA board members took a clear stance in rejecting plans for the establishment of a Super League.”

RB Leipzig: “We are advocates of sporting competition. And sporting competition in professional football means fighting to achieve a position in the domestic league table that allows the team to take part in international competition. For us, changing this is absolutely out of the question,” Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said. “We reject any plans to establish a Super League.”

Borussia Monchengladbach: “This Super League is a club for the super rich, who are flouting the long-established structure of football. It is an attack on UEFA’s club competitions, but above all on the domestic leagues,” Stephan Schippers (CEO) and Max Eberl (sporting director) said in a statement. “It is cynical and hypocritical to claim that this move is for the good of football and is what football fans want, as those behind this league are doing. We can be proud that all of the German clubs have opposed this league, and we will fight to ensure that those clubs involved are expelled from all competitions both domestically and internationally.”

West Ham: “West Ham United shared its views and those of its supporters expressing vehement opposition to the proposal for a Super League at a Premier League meeting held on Tuesday morning.

“Following a meeting between senior club officials and the independent supporters’ committee within 24 hours of the news breaking, vice-chairman Karren Brady met with representatives from 13 other Premier League clubs to share the Hammers’ unequivocally strong disapproval of a proposal by six clubs to create a breakaway league that undermines our values and those of the game we all hold so dear.

“As a club that was founded by working-class shipbuilders over 125 years ago, is deeply rooted in its own community and is acutely aware of the traditions of English football, we passionately believe that there should be no barrier to supporting West Ham United and these proposals go entirely against the integrity of our beautiful game.”

Everton: “Everton is saddened and disappointed to see proposals of a breakaway league pushed forward by six clubs,” the board of directors said in a statement. “Six clubs acting entirely in their own interests. Six clubs tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game. Six clubs choosing to disrespect every other club with whom they sit around the Premier League table. Six clubs taking for granted and even betraying the majority of football supporters across our country and beyond.

“At this time of national and international crisis – and a defining period for our game – clubs should be working together collaboratively with the ideals of our game and its supporters uppermost. Instead, these clubs have been secretly conspiring to break away from a football pyramid that has served them so well.”

Sevilla: The winners of last season’s Europa League, expressed their “outright rejection of a tournament based exclusively on economic parameters and outside the scope of action of UEFA.” More from the statement sent out by their board of directors on Monday: “The creation of this Super League would only serve to harm football in general and the rest of the teams. At the same time, it would severely hit society and punish the vast majority of real football fans, who would be left without the true essence of the sport: The illusion of enjoying their team and seeing it compete for the highest aspirations.”

Lyon: Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas took to Twitter to observe publicly that “the Super League does not obtain popular support as it highlights the virtues of money over the spirit of fair play” and expressed his hope that “we must build bridges, not walls, together with (PSG Chairman and CEO) Nasser (Al-Khelaifi) for a future football where sporting meritocracy and emotion is not forgotten.”  

Lille: “What is important is the unity that we found on the subject, between French clubs,” said club president Olivier Létang, whose club sits atop the Ligue 1 table. “It seems difficult to me that those who have performed well on the field do not participate in competitions. We are touching on what makes the essence of sport.

“It is not necessary to take a personal position,” said Létang, via RFI. “But we are not used to the principle of a closed league in Europe. We are used to meritocracy.”

AS Roma: “AS Roma is strongly opposed to this ‘closed’ system, as it fundamentally flies in the face of the spirit of the game that we all love,” the club said in a statement. “Some things are more important than money, and we remain firmly committed to Italian football on a domestic level, and to fair, open European competitions for all. We look forward to continuing to work with Lega Serie A, the Italian Federation, ECA and UEFA to grow and develop the game of football in Italy and around the world. 

“Fans and grassroots football are at the core of our sport, and this must never be forgotten.”

FC Porto: “There were informal contacts from some clubs, but we did not pay much attention for two reasons,” club president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa said. “First, the European Union does not allow a closed circuit of evidence as there is in the NBA. Second, since our association is against this and part of UEFA, within this framework, we cannot participate in anything that is against the rules of the European Union and UEFA. If that goes forward, and I have my doubts, UEFA will not end and will continue to have evidence, the evidence that is official.”

AFC Ajax: “Ajax are completely taken aback and disappointed by the announcement of a possible Super League. We support the new set-up proposed by UEFA, as confirmed on Monday,” the team announced on social media.

Leeds United: Players called out the Super League on shirts worn before Monday’s match against Liverpool, one of the founding Super League clubs. The shirts read “Football is for the fans” on the back and “Champions League: Earn it” on the front. 


Getty Images

Who is in charge of the Super League?

The first head of the Super League is Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who will serve as chairman. He’s supported by two vice-chairmen. Here’s the full list:

  • Chairman: Florentino Perez (Real Madrid)
  • Vice-chairman: Andrea Agnelli (Juventus)
  • Vice-chairman: Joel Glazer (Manchester United)

Real Madrid and Super League president Florentino Perez said the financial loss from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is part of the chief reason why he chose to team up with other top clubs to break away. Perez, who spoke to Spanish TV personality Josep Pedrerol on El Chiringuito TV, revealed that the Super League would not be “closed” and would eventually have a pyramid format for others to join. 

“The important clubs of Spain, England and Italy have to find a solution to this very bad situation that football is in,” Perez said. “We came to a conclusion that by creating a Super League, instead of playing Champions League midweek, we can alleviate lost revenue.

“Football needs to evolve, like life does … Soccer needs to adapt to the times we live in. Football is losing interest … Something must be done and the pandemic hastened that. We are all ruined.

“Instead of playing the Champions [League] as it is, which is losing interest, now we must find something enticing which is to play amongst the big clubs. We are at a critical moment. Fifteen teams generate value, and five other teams will make the Super League through sporting merit. It is not a closed league. We believe in the merit of teams so that they fight to deserve to play in a competition like this.”

Perez said he believes the clubs and players involved cannot be banned by UEFA or FIFA.

“The players should remain calm because [not being able to play with national teams] will not happen,” Perez said. “Nobody should threaten anybody. We’ve offered to talk, to negotiate … They won’t kick out Real Madrid, City or anybody. I’m sure of that.”

On the new Champions League format that was announced on Monday, Perez said he did not believe it would be a viable option to produce revenue and prevent financial loss for the top clubs for years to come.

“With all due respect, I didn’t understand the new format,” Perez said. “And it won’t create the necessary revenue to save football … We want to save football so the next 20 years we can be calm and not say we lost $200 million.

“We don’t want the big clubs to be richer and the smaller teams to be more poor. We need to do something. We are in a freefall.”  

What about the financial backing?

The estimated earnings for would-be fixtures signing up to the proposed Super League are at least $425 million. Each of the would-be permanent members of the proposed Super League are being promised €350 million ($425 million) to sign up, per documents obtained by the New York Times

JP Morgan Chase & Co. were reportedly approached to raise financing for the project that has seen FIFA back UEFA by threatening to ban any players involved in such a league from future World Cup competition.

Here’s what the Super League had to say in their announcement:

The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues. These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the Clubs. In addition, the competition will be built on a sustainable financial foundation with all Founding Clubs signing up to a spending framework. In exchange for their commitment, Founding Clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic.  

Weren’t there plans to reformat the Champions League?

UEFA and the ECA on Monday released the finalized version of an updated format to the Champions League this season, switching the tournament to a “Swiss Model.”

Gone are the days of six group-stage games. Instead, UEFA plans to expand from 32 to 36 participants and have each play 10 group stage games, five home and five away. This shift produces over 100 new matches. We would still see a pretty similar knockout stage compared to this current season. The big difference is that the winner of the competition would have played at least 17 matches as opposed to 13 under the current format.

Latest UEFA news

On Monday, in a fiery press conference, Ceferin, the UEFA president, emphasized the potential consequences for players participating in the league. “The players that will play in the Super League will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros. 

“They will not be allowed to play for their national teams,” Ceferin said while also calling on teams participating in the Super League to be banned from all UEFA competitions.

UEFA has taken a hardline stance against the proposed Super League. On Sunday as news of the possible breakaway occurred, Europe’s governing soccer body released the following statement:

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we — UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, La Liga, 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, UEFA said in a statement

“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.

“As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned 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.

“We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”

Latest ECA news

The ECA executive board met again on Monday to form an executive committee “to work under the auspices of the executive board to manage day-to-day work during this transitional period.” 

Agnelli, who was the ECA chairman, has now resigned from his seat to join the Super League. Rummenigge, Bayern’s CEO, has taken Agnelli’s seat at ECA and is expected to do the same at UEFA.

Here are the board members in the committee: 

  • Nasser Al-Khelaifi (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Michael Gerlinger (FC Bayern Munich)
  • Edwin van der Sar (AFC Ajax)
  • Dariusz Mioduski (Legia Warsaw)
  • Aki Riihilahti (HJK Helsinki)
  • Michele Centenaro (Independent member)

Here’s more from ECA, via a statement sent out on Monday:

The Board was unanimous in its condemnation of the actions of the departing members, which it holds to be self-serving and to the detriment of the game’s well-being and in clear opposition to ECA’s values. We believe that European Club Football can be reformed from within the system to achieve the collective best interests of all stakeholders in the game. The Board reiterated ECA’s clear position as the only legitimate and fully recognized voice of the leading clubs in Europe and, as such, has taken a number of decisions to ensure that it is able to continue to perform its role efficiently and effectively.  

Latest FIFA news

Back in January, FIFA announced it would ban clubs and players from participating in domestic and international competitions if they were to join a breakaway league. On Tuesday FIFA president Gianni Infantino addressed the UEFA Congress and strongly condemned the actions taken by the breakaway clubs. Here’s what he had to say.

FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport. It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.

Latest Premier League and English soccer news

The Premier league issued the following statement on Tuesday.

The Premier League, alongside The FA, met with clubs today to discuss the immediate implications of the Super League proposal.

The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition.

The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those Shareholders involved to account under its rules. 

The League will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, Government, UEFA, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.  

The Premier League would like to thank fans and all stakeholders for the support they have shown this week on this significant issue.

The reaction proves just how much our open pyramid and football community means to people.

In addition to the joint statement sent out by the major federations in Europe, the Premier League also issued a statement condemning plans from their big six on Sunday.

“The Premier League condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid. Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.”

Here’s what the FA said:

“The FA has been made aware of certain English clubs planning to form a closed European Super League with other European Clubs. It is clear that this would be damaging to English and European football at all levels and will attack the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are fundamental to competitive sport.

“For new competitions to be formed involving clubs from different associations, approval would be required from the relevant National Associations, confederation and/or FIFA. We would not provide permission to any competition that would be damaging to English football, and will take any legal and/or regulatory action necessary to protect the broader interests of the game.

“We note FIFA confirmed earlier this year that they and the six confederations would not recognize any such competition and, as such, any player or club involved may not be permitted to participate in any official competition which falls within the auspices of FIFA or their respective confederation. 

“The FA will continue to work with UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League to seek to ensure that nothing is approved that has the potential to damage English football. We will work with fans, The Premier League, EFL, PFA and LMA, as well as other stakeholders, at home and abroad, to defend the integrity and future prospects of English football in the best interests of the game.” 

And the English Football League’s statement:

The EFL stands with the Premier League, The FA, PFA, LMA, the FSA and colleagues across European professional football in condemnation of proposals which attack the foundation of open and fair competition upon which our game is built.

A strong pyramid based on promotion, relegation and ultimately European qualification, is fundamental to our game’s continued success. The EFL opposes any reform that doesn’t support competition integrity or offer Clubs the prospect of one day competing at the highest end of the game. 

Latest news from other European soccer leagues

The Spanish league chimed in on Monday:

“LaLiga strongly condemns the recently published proposal for a breakaway, elitist European competition that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid. 

“Today football fans across Europe can dream that their club, no matter the size, may excel, climb to the top and compete at the pinnacle of European football. LaLiga defends this European tradition of football for all. The concept proposed by 12 European clubs destroys that dream, shutting the door to the top of European football, allowing in just an elite few. 

“LaLiga has a proud, 90-year history as an open, merit-based competition. Millions of fans around the world follow the 42 clubs of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank. The success of our competitions has helped football to become a key contributor to the Spanish economy, accounting for nearly 1.4% of GDP and providing employment for nearly 200,000 people.  

“The newly proposed top European competition is nothing more than a selfish, egotistical proposal designed to further enrich the already super rich. It will undermine the appeal of the whole game and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future of LaLiga, its member clubs, and all the entire footballing ecosystem.  

“In addition, the breakaway league threatens the rest of Spanish sports to which, in the current season, LaLiga will contribute more than 126 million euros as part of its agreement with the Spanish government and the Spanish FA.  

“This destruction of the European football ecosystem will also ultimately cause the failure of this new competition and its participating clubs, which have built their success based on the achievement of sports titles and triumphs, which will now be more limited. 

“We use all measures at our disposal and work with all stakeholders to defend the integrity and future of Spanish football in the best interests of the game.”

Aside from the Royal Spanish Football Federation chiming in with UEFA and the top European domestic leagues, La Liga president Javier Tebas lashed out at the breakaway plans, which involve three Spanish clubs: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

“At last, the ‘gurus’ of the ‘powerpoint’ super league, drunk with selfishness and lack of solidarity, are going to leave the ‘5 o’clock bar,’ from the ‘underground,'” Tebas tweeted. “UEFA, the European leagues and La Liga have been working at this for a long time and they will get their due answer.”  

Serie A clubs met Monday to discuss the Super League and Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan — Italian participants of the Super League — were surprise participants. The three breakaway clubs expressed their intentions of staying in Serie A while also participating in the Super League, Romano reports.   

How would the Super League be formatted?

The Super League would be a 20-team league made up of 15 permanent members with the remaining five members of the league comprised of teams which qualified through domestic European League competition. The 20 teams would compete in two groups of 10 teams each with a balanced schedule of home and away matches against every team in the group. 

The top three finishers in each group would qualify for the quarterfinals, while the fourth- and fifth-place finishers would play in a two-legged play-in round to qualify for the knockout stages. Then a two-legged knockout format would be used to play down to the finals, which would be a single match to crown a champion.  

From the Super League announcement:

  • 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
  • Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
  • An August start with clubs participating in two groups of 10, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarterfinals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarterfinal positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.

What would this mean for women’s soccer?

On Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain turned in a come-from-behind effort to slay five-time winner Lyon in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. PSG join Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Chelsea in the semifinal round. If a breakaway league were to be formed, at least two of those clubs would be involved in what could be a new competition, but it doesn’t appear that it would begin play the same time as the men’s breakaway league.

“As soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game,” according to the announcement from the Super League.

Latest comments from players, coaches, execs

Pep Guardiola, Manchester City coach: “It’s not sport if it doesn’t matter if you lose.” More on his comments here.

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool coach: “The most important part of football are the supporters and the team, and we have to make sure that really nothing gets in between them.”

Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea coach: “I’m here to be in the hardest competition, that’s why I came here, that’s what I love, to play in the toughest competitions in Europe. That’s why I’m at Chelsea.” More on his comments here.

Andrea Pirlo, Juventus coach: “Evaluations have been made about the Super League, but I don’t have to talk about it. We are confident because we have a cutting-edge president [Andrea Agnelli] who can explain these things and it is right for him to do so.”

James Milner, Liverpool vice-captain: “I don’t like it and I don’t want it to happen.”

Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United: “Dreams can’t be [bought],” the club’s leading scorer for this season said, via Instagram. 

Ander Herrera, PSG midfielder: “I love football and I cannot remain silent about this … I believe in an improved Champions League, but not in the rich stealing what the people created.

Mesut Ozil, ex-Arsenal star: “Kids grow up dreaming to win the World Cup and the Champions League — not any Super League. The enjoyment of big games is that they only happen once or twice a year, not every week. Really hard to understand for all football fans out there.”  

Gary Neville, Manchester United ex-captain: It’s “an absolute disgrace” … the club owners are “bottle merchants” motivated by “pure greed.”

Neville added during Sky Sports’ broadcast of the Premier League:

“I’m not against the modernization of football competitions, we have the Premier League, we have the Champions League.  

“But to bring forward proposals in the midst of COVID, in the midst of the economic crisis that exists for all clubs is an absolute scandal. United and the rest of the big six clubs that have signed up to it against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves. Are Arsenal in that? They have just drawn with Fulham, Manchester United are drawing with Burnley. … To sign up to the Super League during a season is a joke, they should deduct points off all six of them.”  

Sir Alex Ferguson, legendary Manchester United coach: “Talk of a Super League is a move away from 70 years of European club football,” Ferguson told Reuters. “Both as a player for a provincial team Dunfermline in the 60s and as a manager at Aberdeen winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup, for a small provincial club in Scotland it was like climbing Mount Everest. Everton are spending £500 million to build a new stadium with the ambition to play in Champions League. Fans all over love the competition as it is. In my time at United, we played in four Champions League finals and they were always the most special of nights. I’m not sure Manchester United are involved in this, as I am not part of the decision making process. With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game.”

Luis Figo, ex-Sporting, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan star: This so-called “Super League” is anything but “Super,” Figo chimed in on Twitter on Monday. “This greedy and callous move would spell disaster for our grassroots, for women’s football, and the wider football community only to serve self-interested owners, who stopped caring about their fans long ago, and complete disregard for sporting merit. Tragic.”

Jamie Carragher, ex-Liverpool great: “Football takes you to a place nothing else can,” said Carragher, who is also an analyst for CBS Sports’ coverage of the Champions League. “The Super League will never take you to that place again.” 

For more player reaction, click here.

Latest updates from Europe’s political leaders

United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson issued the following statement of disapproval: “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action. They 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.”

Johnson praised Chelsea and Manchester City after they backed away from the Super League.

Johnson, along with Keir Starmer, Labour Party leader, are drawing up potential government enforced consequences for clubs if they go ahead with the Super League, Alex Wickham of Politico reports

On Tuesday the U.K. government reiterated its stance issuing a statement.

The Prime Minister and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden met with representatives from the Football Association, the Premier League and football fan groups this morning to discuss action against the proposed European Super League.

He expressed his solidarity with football fans and agreed they must always be at the heart of any decisions about the future of the game.

He reiterated his unwavering support for the football authorities and confirmed they have the government’s full backing to take whatever action necessary to put a stop to these plans.

All attendees agreed that action was necessary to protect the fairness an open competition we expect to see in football, and to uphold the fundamental principle that any club should have the chance to play and win against the biggest players in the game.

The Prime Minister confirmed the government will not stand by while a small handful of owners create a closed shop.

He was clear that no action is off the table and the government is exploring every possibility, including legislative options, to ensure these proposals are stopped.

French president Emmanuel Macron is also condemning a breakaway league: “The President of the Republic welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate in a European football Super League project threatening the principle of solidarity and sporting merit. The French State will support all steps taken by the LFP, FFF, UEFA and FIFA to protect the integrity of federal competitions, whether national or European.”

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi said on Monday he supports UEFA’s stance “to preserve national competitions, meritocratic values and the social function of sport.” Here’s what he said, according to ANSA:

“The government is carefully following the debate around the soccer Super League project and supports with determination the positions of the Italian and European soccer authorities to preserve national competitions, meritocratic values and the social function of sport”

Add the Spanish government and José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, the country’s minister of culture and sports, among those opposing the Super League.

“The government of Spain does not support the initiative to create a soccer Super League promoted by several European clubs, including three Spanish clubs, because it understands that it has been conceived and proposed without counting on the representative organizations of this sport, both nationally and internationally.

“The minister of culture and sports, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, has held meetings and conversations throughout the day with the most representative parts of Spanish and continental football. Specifically, Rodríguez Uribes has spoken with the presidents of UEFA, RFEF, La Liga de Fútbol Profesional, as well as with the presidents of Fútbol Club Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid, the Spanish teams that support this initiative.

“The government of Spain, through its minister of culture and sports, has defended before its interlocutors that it must return to the path of dialogue and agreement in the areas of decision and organization to which these same clubs belong to achieve an agreed solution that it is convenient for football and sports, both for national and international organizations and for teams, professionals and the fans in general.

“Sportsmanship must be demonstrated through the search for broad agreement. The Government has confirmed the willingness of all parties to this dialogue throughout the talks held today with minister Rodríguez Uribes and wishes it to bear fruit with an agreement that is beneficial to all.”

What’s next?

UEFA will make a decision regarding the current semifinalists for Champions League and Europa League later this week after meeting with its legal team, according to Romano. They’ll decide in that meeting whether to exclude Man City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Man United and Arsenal from this season’s competitions. Ceferin wants to ban them as soon as possible, but it all depends on the direction of UEFA’s legal team, Romano reports.

According to Romano, Spanish clubs are planning for a meeting on Thursday to discuss Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid’s position after joining Super League.


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