Breakaway European league lies in tatters

Reuters
The European Super League collapsed on Wednesday as eight of the 12 founding members from England, Italy and Spain abandoned the breakaway project under massive pressure.
Reuters

The European Super League collapsed on Wednesday as eight of the 12 founding members from England, Italy and Spain abandoned the breakaway project under massive pressure from fans, politicians, soccer officials and even the British royals.

Founder and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said he was reluctantly calling time on the new league after six English clubs withdrew on Tuesday, with Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid following suit and AC Milan indicating they would too. 

“The voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed about the Super League, and AC Milan must be sensitive to the voice of those who love this wonderful sport,” AC Milan said in a statement.

Agnelli said he still believed in the merits of the Super League despite the overwhelming criticism and had no regrets about how the breakaway had been conducted. “I remain convinced of the beauty of that project,” Agnelli said, adding that it would have been the best competition in the world.

The Super League argued it would increase revenue for the top soccer clubs in Europe and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.

However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organizations said the league would only boost the power and wealth of elite clubs, and that the partially closed structure went against European football’s long-standing model.

Players, fans, pundits and politicians celebrated the U-turns of the English teams on Tuesday. “This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

The founding members were Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur from England, AC Milan, Inter and Juventus from Italy and Spain’s Atletico, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Liverpool’s principal owner John Henry apologized in a video on the club’s website and social media. “It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans,” he said.

“I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget, and shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have.”

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