The Tyrannical Elitism of the European Super League


Ben Jacacci, Contributor, '23

On April 18th, a surprise announcement by Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez shook the international footballing community; he revealed that his club, along with 11 other top European teams, was in the process of forming a breakaway annual competition known as the European Super League (ESL). The proposed league would see these teams play first in group stages starting in August, followed by knockout stages and a final single-elimination championship match in May.

For those who aren’t aware, there already is an annual European competition in place known as the UEFA Champion’s League. So what’s the difference between these two leagues? The answer is simple: in the Champion’s League, admission is never guaranteed, and each club must qualify through their merits and success on a yearly basis. However, in the proposed ESL, a majority of teams would qualify automatically regardless of their performance; they would be admitted solely by virtue of prestige and finance. This would leave an extremely small window of opportunity for less prestigious or financially affluent clubs to earn their way into admission through competitive success. In addition, because the ESL would routinely have support from the world’s top banks and broadcasting channels, each participating club would make up to three times as much money per season as they did competing in the Champion’s League (per Sky Sports).

Unsurprisingly, the proposed ESL has drawn near universal criticism and condemnation from the footballing community across the world. The Champion’s League has long been a hallmark of both international competition and uncompromising equality, and to see it replaced by a league more concerned with financial gain and appearances than football itself is extremely disheartening. As if the situation could not get any worse, FIFA publicly announced that it was considering banning all players who participated in the ESL from the World Cup. The state of football seemed to be in complete disarray.

Fortunately, intense and robust fan protest immediately an impact. Outcries of elitism and lack of competition exposed the ESL for what it truly was. Within two days of its initial announcement, a majority of the league’s founding clubs publicly announced their withdrawal; only one day later, the league suspended all operations and ceased to exist. While it may be gone, fans are still weary of another ambitious power-grab to take its place – the debacle has unmasked professional football as a business and not a sport.