On November 2nd, German magazine Der Spiegel leaked documents (internal emails, confidential presentations) indicating 7 elite European football clubs (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, AC Milan, Manchester United and Arsenal) considered leaving their respective domestic leagues, to form a “Super League” back, in 2016. The bombshell report has reignited speculation that select clubs could “break away” with Europe’s top teams wealthier and more dominant on the field than ever before; the league would showcase 16 teams and start in ’21. FIFA and +/-6 European domestic soccer federations would be in opposition (see: lengthy lawsuit), believing the league’s formation would effectively put an end to domestic soccer, but European football has a history of clubs “breaking away”; the Premier League was formed in ’92, when the most successful English clubs sought to “maximize television revenues and retain a larger share” and opted to split from the old Football League First Division.
Howie Long-Short: Rumors of a “Super League” forming are not new, so the talk should be met with more than a little skepticism.
The UEFA strategy council met with players’ union officials and European league representatives on Wednesday. Each denied their knowledge of the proposed plan, saying it was the brainchild of “one and a half” clubs (Real Madrid and Bayern Munich). Real Madrid did not send a representative to the meeting.
If Europe’s elite clubs are to “break away”, it would be in pursuit of a financial windfall (see: broadcast dollars), while eliminating the threat of relegation (for 20 years). The 11 elite clubs “breaking away” would receive ownership in the new league, while 5 others would be invited to participate.
FIFA is already on record opposing the formation of a “Super League” and threatening to ban any player who were to participate from future World Cup competition. Their decision matters as the international governing body for the sport, but they’re not exactly impartial arbiters on this topic; back in March, FIFA proposed plans for a revamped “Club World Cup” that would debut in ’21 and include at least 12 European clubs. The quadrennial tournament (currently annual) would increase the number of participants from 7 to 24, with the teams splitting $2 billion in prize money. UEFA, which perceives an expanded “Club World Cup” as a threat to its Champions League strongly opposes the FIFA’s plan. Softbank (SFTBY) was named among the consortium of investors (includes: UAE, Saudi Arabia) that would fund the tournament.
Fan Marino: On a final note on FIFA, President Gianni Infantino said that it’s possible the World Cup would expand to 48 teams in ’22 (previously planned ’26); the decision would be contingent upon another Middle Eastern country’s willingness to share hosting responsibilities with Qatar.
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