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Barça among founding members of controversial prospective European Super League

Proposal for elite breakaway competition criticized as “selfish” as UEFA threatens strong punishments

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19 April 2021 03:47 PM

by

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

FC Barcelona, along with eleven of the other biggest clubs across the continent, have announced their intentions to establish a European Super League kicking off this August. 

In response, La Liga and UEFA have released strongly-worded statements criticizing the potential new breakaway competition, denouncing it as “elitist” and threatening severe punishments for clubs and players who take part. 

The Catalan giants are one of 12 “Founding Clubs” who want to form the “best sporting club competition in the world,” which will be comprised of 20 teams divided into two groups of 10, with each side playing home and away fixtures before a knockout phase of the competition. 

Barça would be joined by fellow La Liga sides Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, as well as Italian clubs Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan, plus six English teams, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur in the Super League. 

Three other as-of-yet unnamed European teams will join this initial 12 as the 15 permanent members of the competition, with five other clubs qualifying for the final positions based on achievements in the prior season to fill out the 20-team competition. 

Barcelona's statement on the issue says the club is "loyal to its history and its leadership role within the framework of European Football, once again places itself as a leading club with regards to the great changes that are needed in the world of football, thinking always in the how to benefit the Club best from a sporting, institutional and financial point of view."

Organizers also say that a women’s version of the competition will also be launched “as soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition.”

Criticism

La Liga’s official statement criticized the plan as “a selfish, egotistical proposal designed to further enrich the already super rich.”

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.” 

Together, UEFA, the English Football Association, the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), LaLiga, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A released a statement denouncing the “cynical” project as one that “is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.”

It goes on to say that “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.”

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin gave a fiery press conference on Monday afternoon threatening bans for all players of Super League teams from the European Championships, and brandished many club executives involved as “liars” and “snakes.” 

Barça’s club statement explains that the Super League clubs would still plan on playing their domestic competitions on weekends, with weekday nights reserved for this new competition. In essence, the Super League is an attempt at replacing the Champions League, run by UEFA, with a new format tournament that would give the biggest and richest clubs in Europe more power and more financial might than they currently have. 

Despite the gigantic financial imbalances that currently exist across the footballing landscape, the European game is still at its core a meritocracy, with rewards based on sporting merit. In theory, any team can win enough games to climb up the divisions and qualify for the Champions League if they perform better than other sides in their league.

This new Super League removes any jeopardy for 15 of the continent’s biggest names and goes a long way towards closing the top end of the game off for a selected privileged few. 

Many fans view the concept as one that shatters traditions and disregards the history of the sport. However, others view the project as an exciting way of seeing many more games between the most talented teams, with the best going up against the best on a nearly weekly basis. 

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  • A stall selling scarves of FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid (image from REUTERS/Nacho Doce)

  • A stall selling scarves of FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid (image from REUTERS/Nacho Doce)

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