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 six English clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur 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 called 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 practicable,” 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.
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.
No German or French clubs were involved in the Super League’s formation.
England’s Premier League, the most watched of the world’s soccer leagues, condemned the Super League plan as a blow to the hopes of the millions of soccer fans who support smaller clubs in England and around Europe.
Under current rules of relegation and promotion based on on-the-field performance, any club can hope to compete against the powerhouse teams at some point.
“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,” a Premier League statement said.