Tue. Jan 18th, 2022


(noun) the proposed elite professional soccer tournament orchestrated by top European soccer clubs to break away from the rest

Near midnight on Sunday 19 April, a dozen of Europe’s biggest football clubs announced a new “Superliga”. It would be an exclusive tournament played for big money, in which teams would secure their places every season.

It was also a radical project that sought to destroy the sport’s cherished “pyramid” system, a romantic ideal that suggests any side, regardless of their size and stature, could reach for the most dazzling prizes.

The cabal of over-rich club owners who cooked up the breakaway did not properly judge their opposition. Fans, politicians, players and commentators were fierce in their criticism, which led to the Super League collapsing within days of it being revealed.

Nine of the original clubs involved have retreated. John Henry, the billionaire owner of Liverpool, issued an itchy apology. The American billionaire Glazer family, owners of Manchester United, felt compelled to quell fan anger over their involvement by present an agreement to allow fans to buy shares in the club.

However, three clubs – Spain’s Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, ​​as well as Italy’s Juventus – remain committed to the Super League, starting legal proceedings in an effort to revive the concept. But even if Europe’s courts align with the remaining rebels, it is unclear whether any team will join them.

Florentino Perez, the billionaire president of Real Madrid, claimed “football will die” without the Super League, believing that more money rather than less spending is on players who need the modern game to be sustainable.

The Super League plan has become an adverb to the hubris and greed plaguing the world’s favorite game. But the fightback also shows that most understand that sport’s romantic appeal comes from a sense of fair play, with winners being decided on the field, not inside boardrooms.

murad.ahmed@ft.com



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