“Greed, money, and power.” Those were the words CNN used to characterize the 48-hour history of Europe’s hastily organized, quickly renounced, and much-ridiculed Super League that angered millions of soccer fans around the world.
Announced on April 18th, the Super League was a short-lived breakaway league consisting of Europe’s twelve wealthiest soccer clubs, such as Manchester City, Liverpool, and Real Madrid. The League was met with severe backlash, and just two days after its formation, Chelsea publicly announced its intention to withdraw from the League. Thirty minutes after Chelsea dropped out, Manchester City left the league as well, and they were quickly followed by the remaining Premier League clubs. Thus commenced the downfall of soccer’s biggest restructuring ever. The abandonment of the Super League reminded the exploitative financial titans of European soccer that their profits would be null without the support of their fans and their players, and demonstrated to the world the power of collective action.
The founders of the Super League claimed that it was designed to help stimulate wealth for all of European soccer. However, their underlying intentions were clear: to create an exclusive league composed of successful clubs in order to help the owners grow rich on the proceeds of the League. These motivations stemmed from the fact that some of the clubs involved with the Super League weren’t “super” at all. Consider Arsenal and AC Milan, two teams who haven’t qualified for the Champions League since 2016 and 2013, respectively, or Tottenham Hotspur, who have won just one League Cup in the past three decades. The Super League would guarantee these struggling clubs exposure, in turn granting them the profit they lacked in the UEFA format.
What caused so many teams to suddenly withdraw? Beginning with its formation on Sunday, the League caused cries of outrage among soccer fans and players from every corner of the sports world. On April 19th, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera spoke out against the League saying, “I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest. If this European Super League advances, those dreams are over.” That same day, fans gathered in protest at Elland Road in Leeds, England, setting a Liverpool jersey aflame in protest. The clubs responded to these protests, and one by one they left the League.
What were the founders thinking? Naturally, they weren’t. They turned a blind eye to the fact that their success was due to the players and to the fans watching European soccer. Consequently, they were faced with unified action by the very people who they were trying to exploit and by the stars of their own show. Their greed led to the swift and stunning collapse of a multi-billion dollar league that embodied the essence of capitalism, and their ignorance sparked a collective effort by the people that highlighted the power of protesting in the face of equality.