I don’t normally do blogs about sports because they can hurt sometimes. I have faced the ugliness of what is supposed to be relaxation. From corruption to match-fixing, to sexual harassment, racism, and all kinds of marginalization of minorities. Sports can be ugly. Anyway, today let me reflect upon capitalism and how it played football.
Football fans are being expressive about the European Super League which makes them hypocritical. I am a sports enthusiast myself and I too love football. I used to watch almost every Arsenal game till the European Champions League final in 2006 when I realized fanatism needs a lot of reason. For the last 15 to 20 years, the football world has been inviting billionaires with their money into the game. The money has been used for the commodification of every aspect, from facilities to salaries and talent development. It has seemed like a win-win situation but if you know how capitalism works, it was not.
In the last 48 hours, these 12 Football entities have made headlines. The English big six that is; Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham. The Three from Spain Barcelona, Athletico Madrid, Real Madrid. Then from Italy AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. The main reason why they are the talk is that UEFA the body that governs football on the European Continent with the inclusion of Israel from the Middle East is that they failed to listen to the big clubs. UEFA are dictators by design and they are facing a revolution of their own making.
The first time the idea of the European Super League was fronted was in the 1980s, UEFA then dragged its legs and made improvements concerning the inclusion of wider Europe in the showpiece. In 1998, the clubs tried to organize war to take on UEFA but again compromises were made. In 2009 the then Football Manager at Arsenal, Mr. Wenger predicted a European league by the end of the decade. He is an Authority in the game and a shareholder in one of the renegade Clubs. Mr. Wenger was not being emotional but realistic about how the game was being run and both the head of UEFA and FIFA back then had been sidelined by the beautiful game because of the shame they caused. That is how bad things had gotten.
The dirty 12 have proposed a European Football league with a total of 20 teams, 15 will be permanent without the prospect of relegation. They want to put a spending framework in place with wage limits. They have secured a 3.6 billion dollars initial funding from JP Morgan Chase & Co one of the four (4) biggest banks in the world with roots from the late 1700s. They want to have a format of 2 groups 10 each side and then playoffs after. They are targeting the money. Currently, these teams get on average about 50 million dollars from TV rights annually, if their project went off they would be assured of a minimum of 300 million dollars plus. Today, it’s forbidden for Manchester United to air its games live on their YouTube outlets because of UEFA and they want to fight that. The whole set up will be followed for the women’s competition from the same clubs.
The dirty 12 want to play each other more often because of the money they make when the London derby is happening between Arsenal and Tottenham, the El Classical happens in Spain, The Milan Saga. Can you imagine the money made if Arsenal and Manchester United met? These are teams that money would like to play every other day, the money football invited. Money is everything!
The Pandemic that we have come to know as Covid-19 provided the opportunity for the European Super League. Football Clubs and their billionaire owners are rethinking just like every other capitalistic machine in the world. They plan to dissuade the lesser clubs’ owners with playing around with revenue will work. The obstacles ahead are manageable for example having 3 countries being represented does not matter if players are from all over the world. No German clubs are signing up because they don’t have billionaires in their game, fans own the teams. France is yet to join but since PSG is a bribe things are tricky for them and Monaco is basically not French territory.
When the radical move was announced Manchester United shares rose by 7% and those of Juventus by 18% which means money that is much needed. If the European Super League does not happen in August chances are the dirty 12 will all be part of the champions league even if some are not eligible going by performance.
If the Saudi Arabia Crown Prince nearly acquired a football club in England but his murder record ruined his chances. Maybe he knew about the coming European Super League that would have helped him wash and clean his money like all the rest. We enjoy the NBA, we enjoy the IPL the biggest cricket tournament, we love Franchise Rugby even at the cost of traditional clubs. We would be shortsighted and very hypocritical to be against the future of football.
When Catalonia wanted to break away from Spain they said Barcelona would move to the English Premier League. After Brexit anything is possible. The British government that doesn’t want to be part of the European Union all over a sudden has the morality to threaten clubs. What a joke. The whole European Super League is credible because it’s beyond sports. If you are critical to it maybe you should go back to whatever planet you have been living on for the last 3 decades.