Last summer saw one of the biggest crises of recent memory within international soccer unfold. After years of rumors, concepts, speculation, meetings, and ideas a group of Europe’s biggest clubs announced they would be breaking away from the club competitions sanctioned by UEFA, the sport’s governing body in Europe, and forming what they called the European Super League.
The announcement threatened the very structure of the sport in Europe. One of the biggest strengths of the sport, especially in Europe, is the belief that every club has the opportunity to win the biggest competitions in the future. The potential Super League would have ended that and changed the sport even more with it.
The Super League’s Announcement
Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Inter Milan, Juventus, A.C. Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid sent shockwaves through the sport when the original announcement of the European Super League was made in 2021. The concept, which had been discussed for years, had finally come to fruition.
However, it was met with immediate resistance and anger. PSG, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund, who were all reportedly asked to join the competition, announced not only that they wouldn’t be joining the league, but that they strongly opposed its creation.
Across Europe, fans protested. In England, where three team owners became Vice Chairmen of the new league, the clubs joining the Super League were widely criticized.
Manchester United fans, who had already protested other issues surrounding the club, surrounded Old Trafford during the end of April and early May. Manchester United vs Liverpool, one of England’s biggest matches, was delayed by an early-May protest that saw fans enter the stadium and field.
In London, the protests were even more significant. Chelsea, scheduled to play a game at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League as the controversy unfolded, saw their own fanbase protest during the entire matchday. Nearly every fanbase for each team in the proposed league released statements voicing their opposition through supporters groups or protested their own club.
Each team began to realize the league would not be able to go ahead, and that continuing to move forward with the league could cause irreparable damage between them and their fanbases. One by one, nine of the clubs departed the league, all but three; Real Madrid, Juventus, and Barcelona.
UEFA and the Super League in Court
While most of the Super League clubs began the withdrawal process from the competition and publicly issued apologies, the remainder of the Super League resolved to take the issue to court.
Now, the Court of Justice of the European Union is hearing the dispute between UEFA, FIFA, and the Super League. The issues surround the very core of the sport itself.
The Super League is arguing that UEFA, under the world-governing body FIFA, has unfairly controlled European soccer for years, resisting competing ventures and ideas unfairly. They argue that UEFA has a conflict of interest, and illegally stopped and helped prevent the ultimate creation and success of the Super League to maintain a monopoly.
UEFA and FIFA are arguing in favor of the model in place today. Saying they merely protect every club in Europe, and that the Super League would completely change the way sports are governed and organized in Europe.
The outcome of the court case could have broad impacts across soccer in Europe, and the world, and could even impact other sports. Depending on what is decided, the Super League could make its return as a potential competition, and the current court decision could have massive impacts on the future of UEFA and its influence in European soccer at the club level.
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