The ‘big six’ in the UK’s Premier League have agreed to join other top-level football clubs in a new European Super League (ESL).
Announced on 19 April, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham are amongst 12 clubs that are now joining the ESL.
AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid are the founding clubs that the big six will join.
According to the ESL, to kick off the league, a “new midweek competition” will begin soon so that teams can continue to “compete in their respective national leagues”, despite Premier League regulations clearly prohibiting clubs from participating in competitions other than their league, the Champions League, Europa League, the FA Cup, League Cup and the community shield, unless agreed otherwise.
The first season will start “as soon as practicable”, and the ESL anticipates three more men’s clubs to join.
Additionally, once the men’s tournament commences, the ESL plans to launch a women’s competition.
However, in contrast to the UEFA’s Champions League, the ESL would include the same 15 teams every year rather than have teams qualify for their place.
As a result, the announcement has stirred up some controversy amongst football organisations and critics, as they believe the move to ESL is driven mostly by money. Plus, as it could damage domestic leagues, they think it goes against the integrity of football.
The non-profit international governing body, FIFA, stated before the announcement its disapproval of ESL’s system and that it will not recognise a competition like that. Any footballers involved in the ESL could even face being denied the chance to play at a World Cup, revealed FIFA.
UEFA relayed a similar warning on 18 April – players who compete in the ESL will be banned from all other domestic, European and worldwide competitions and even from representing their national teams.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin called the ESL a “disgraceful, self-serving” plan and a “spit in the face of football lovers.
“[It is a] cynical plan, completely against what football should be. We cannot and will not allow that to change.
“Players who will play in the teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from the World Cup and Euros. We urge everyone to stand tall with us as we do everything in our power to ensure this never ends up in fruition.”
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and former professional footballers Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Danny Murphy, amongst many others have all condemned the plans.
Retaliating to this response, the ESL sent a letter to Gianni Infantino, President of FIFA and Aleksander Ceferin issuing a notice of legal proceedings in European courts – which aims to block any punishments the governing bodies may try to use to protest the formation of the ESL.
“Going forward, the founding clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new league and for football as a whole,” said the ESL.
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