Overtime: Fans Actually Have A Voice


The Super League was met with widespread backlash from fans and pundits alike, resulting in the suspension of the league 48 hours after its initial announcement (Courtesy of Twitter)

Every time I watch a soccer game, I have the chance to relax for 90 minutes and watch two teams play the worldwide game. The only thing better than a domestic league match is the Champions League because it includes the best teams in the world as they fight to win the prestigious title and bring glory to their fanbase. And over the weekend, there was a chance that all of this would have changed forever.

Over the weekend, 12 teams from Europe (six from England, three from Spain and three from Italy) announced the formation of a brand new European Super League. With this shocking announcement, UEFA, the governing body for all European soccer, condemned these actions and announced devastating consequences that could occur if the league goes through. 

This proposed new Super League would have 20 teams split into two divisions of 10. Each team would play home and away against the nine opponents in its division. The top four teams in each division would advance to a playoff round of quarterfinals, semifinals and final. As of now, there are only 12 founding clubs, but this is expected to increase to 15 clubs. The remaining five spots would be awarded to teams who can qualify based on their previous year. 

The initial six clubs from England are Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. From Spain it is Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. The three Italian teams are Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan. This new league would replace the Champions League as the primary European competition since the best teams would play here instead.

The backlash was swift and immediate. The topic started trending on social media with outrage over this plan to change soccer forever. The fans of the 12 teams who have publicly announced their intention to play in this league have called for the owners to change their minds and not ruin the game’s fundamentals. 

On paper, this seems like a dream come true. We would have the best teams in Europe constantly playing against each other in clashes to win the trophy. However, there is more to see if you take a step back and think about it. The 15 founding clubs would always be entered into the Super League, regardless of their performances. This would create a sense of a closed league since spots are guaranteed instead of earned like the Champions League.

The league is also criticized because it was created for the sole purpose of making more money. Each team that participates in this league will make approximately $400 million per year, which is four times the amount that Bayern Munich, the current Champions League holders, received when they won the trophy. Most of the fans and pundits view this as a cash grab for the owners of the clubs and frankly, they are right. This decision would ruin football. This would lead the teams to treat their other competitions, like their domestic leagues, as jokes since the real prize is the Super League. They could also use that money and buy all of the players that they could possibly want with their profits. The big clubs would become richer and better while the lower clubs would suffer from a lack of talent. 

UEFA and FIFA took more drastic measures. UEFA President Alexander Ceferin has stated that any player that plays for any of those 12 teams will not be allowed to play for their national teams during international tournaments like the upcoming European Championships this summer and 2022 World Cup. In addition to banning the players from playing in international tournaments, UEFA is also focusing on kicking them out of any future Champions or Europa Leagues. They have stated that they will also be banned from playing in their domestic leagues or cups, making the Super League the only way for those teams to play soccer. 

Finally, it was too much. After protests from fans and pundits alike, eight of the 12 clubs announced that they are discontinuing their plans to enter the super league including all of the English clubs. Chelsea was the first club to announce that they were withdrawing. Additionally, the Super League announced that it was suspending the season as the number of teams dwindled down to four. The only teams that never officially backed out are Juventus and all of the Spanish clubs. The super league lasted for two days, and in all honesty, it was two days too many.

Clubs mainly backed out because of the fans. Fans were stunned that the clubs were planning on changing soccer without their input. As a Liverpool supporter, I was disgusted by this cash grab and attempt to ruin the sport that I have loved all of my life. For a soccer fan, one of the best parts of the sport is its unpredictability and its surprises. For example, Leicester City winning the Premier League with 5000-1 odds or Manchester United winning the Treble back in 1999. Another example is when Liverpool staged a miracle comeback against Barcelona in order to reach the final of the Champions League. These achievements are fundamental to the DNA of those clubs. In soccer, anything can happen. On any given day, the worst team in the league can defeat the leader. But the Super League would remove that possibility because it would eliminate the unpredictability and the underdog stories. These stories make soccer more than a sport.

Before Chelsea announced they were backing out, kickstarting today’s events, a massive crowd of Chelsea fans protested the new league. When it was announced, you could see the pure emotion from the fans as they realized that their club listened to them and made the right decision not for profit but for the club. The fans realized that they had the power to stop this from happening and we pulled it off. This shows that the fans have power when it comes to the decisions of the clubs. For some fans, their soccer team is their life and a source of happiness. If this actually went through, the history of all of these clubs would become redundant. This would have killed soccer and the emotions that are essential to the game. Soccer is much more than a sport; it is a place where people from all walks of life can relax and watch 11 people run around a field. The passion that comes from supporting a team can’t be described because it’s different for everyone. But knowing that we saved soccer, we can get back to what fans do best: supporting our teams and enjoying the beautiful game.