By Gregory Bryce
The talks about a European Super League is not a new development in football. In fact, there have been rumours about a Super League for decades – going all the way back to the 1990s – but these talks have only been entertained by Europe’s more elite clubs. Any prospective European Super League plans have been nothing more than a pipe dream for the potential clubs that would have been invited to compete.
So why is it that there is now more concern over the possible introduction of a Super League that would effectively replace the UEFA Champions League?
To fully realize the situation, you must first understand what this proposed Super League entails and how it would change the structure of football as we know it.
With the proposed plans for the European Super League, up to 18 of Europe’s top teams – including the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG among others being invited – would take part in a league format with matches scheduled to play midweek. At the end of this setup, a knockout tournament would begin among the best teams to decide the winner.
The idea of such a league is particularly attractive to the top teams, as this would guarantee more money for them to profit from.
By taking part in a competition that has some of the best teams in the world, there is guaranteed increase in fan attendance, sponsorship deals and broadcasting revenue. After all, fans would be more interested in watching a more publicized match between giants Bayern Munich and Liverpool, than a fixture between Bayern Munich and Paderborn.
This is one of the main reasons why Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid, has firmly supported the idea of a Super League.
But again, this is not a new debate, so why is it that it seems even more likely to happen now?
To simplify, it is because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Essentially, the pandemic has placed many clubs under financial pressure and the clubs are looking for some sort of way out from the financial fallout. Even UEFA has not been spared, with the organization reporting to have lost $600 million due to the pandemic and this would affect the clubs too, as they, in turn, would receive a smaller pay-out from UEFA.
To quote ESPN, “Folks are left squabbling over what’s left of the pie, with bigger clubs less willing to share.”
So to summarize, with more money on the line, and the loss in revenue due to COVID-19, the plans for a European Super League looks very enticing right now.
So, what is the missing piece of the puzzle?
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the approval from FIFA.
FIFA stands as the world governing body of the sport, and for the league to be put in place, the clubs involved would need the ‘greenlight’ from FIFA.
Of course, the teams can hypothetically launch the league without FIFA’s approval but that opens the teams, their stakeholders and their players to swift punishment from FIFA. As we’ve seen in the case of Trinidad and Tobago recently, FIFA is not hesitant to seek legal action against organizations that have slighted or bypassed their powers.
So yes, right now, the approval of FIFA is needed for the European Super League.
It is hard to predict exactly what FIFA’s stance would be should these plans be acted upon. As of right now, FIFA has remained neutral in the debate and has issued a statement saying, “[FIFA] does not wish to comment and participate in any speculation about topics which come up every now and then.”
It is expected that should these plans progress, it will be a matter of politics that will influence FIFA’s stance on the matter, with the potential loss of support from UEFA being a major consequence, should they support the Super League.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance sports journalist.
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