European soccer in turmoil as 12 top clubs launch breakaway Super League

European soccer in turmoil as 12 top clubs launch breakaway Super League

The 12 European clubs planning to start a breakaway Super League have told the leaders of FIFA and UEFA that they have begun legal action aimed at fending off threats to block the competition.

The letter was sent by the group of English, Spanish and Italian clubs to FIFA president Gianni Infantino and UEFA counterpart Aleksander Ceferin, saying the Super League has already been underwritten by funding of 4 billion euros ($6 billion Cdn) from a financial institution.

Currently, teams have to qualify each year for the Champions League through their domestic leagues, but the Super League would lock in 15 places every season for the founding members. The seismic move to shake up the sport is partly engineered by the American owners of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, who also run franchises in closed U.S. leagues — a model they are trying to replicate in Europe.

UEFA warned the Super League clubs, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, that legal action would be taken against them and said they would be barred from existing domestic competitions like the Spanish league, the Premier League and international competitions.

“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,” the Super League clubs wrote to Infantino and Ceferin in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino. (Markus Schreiber/The Associated Press)

‘Protective steps’

“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 vompetition in accordance with applicable laws.”

The courts were not named.

The Super League intends to launch a 20-team competition with 15 founding members but only 12 have currently signed up. The others are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham from England, Atletico Madrid from Spain, and AC Milan and Inter Milan from Italy.

The breakaway was launched just as UEFA thought it had agreement on an expansion of the Champions League from 2024. Now, the same officials who backed the plans have decided to go it alone while claiming the existing competitions could remain — despite losing their most successful teams, including record 13-time European champion Real Madrid and six-time winner Liverpool.

Possible sanctions

“The competition is to be played alongside existing domestic league and cup competitions, which are a key part of European football’s competitive fabric,” reads the Super League letter to Infantino and Ceferin. “We do not seek to replace the UEFA’s Champions League or the Europa League but to compete with and exist alongside those tournaments.”

Addressing an emergency meeting the day after 12 of Europe’s top clubs announced the Super League, Ceferin launched a scathing attack on the plan, which has been widely condemned across the game and beyond.

“We’re still assessing with our legal team but we will take all the sanctions that we can and we will inform you as soon we can,” he said. “My opinion is that as soon as possible they have to be banned from all our competitions and the players from all our competitions.”

Former United midfielder Ander Herrera is one of the few current players to speak out against the proposal. Herrera plays for Paris Saint-Germain, the French champion that is so far refusing to take part in the Super League alongside big clubs in Germany like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Hansi Flick, head coach of FC Bayern Munich, which is not part of the new league, says the move ‘would not be good for European soccer.’ (Getty Images)

Opposition to move

“I believe in an improved Champions League,” he told his 2.7 million followers on Twitter, “but not in the rich stealing what the people created, which is nothing other than the most beautiful sport on the planet.”

Bayern coach Hansi Flick said he opposes the Super League.

“I think it would not be good for European soccer,” Flick said Monday.

Dortmund said that it and Bayern both reject the Super League and are in favour of reforming the existing Champions League. Both are on the board of the European Club Association, which held an emergency meeting Sunday after representatives of the Super League clubs quit the organization.

“It was the clear opinion of the members of the ECA board that the plans for founding a Super League are rejected,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said in a statement.

“Both of the German clubs which are represented on the ECA board, FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, put forward 100 per cent identical views in all conversations.”

Published at Mon, 19 Apr 2021 12:18:29 +0000