In the letter, the group said that its urgency stemmed from the huge losses piling up as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The sight of games played in cavernous but empty stadiums has become the norm, and restrictions on public gatherings mean that hundreds of millions of dollars are being lost in gate receipts in every league in Europe, while broadcasters have also clawed back vast sums from leagues and competition organizers.
The biggest European clubs have long been frustrated with sharing the wealth created by tournaments in which they are the biggest draw, and talks about a new league began well before the pandemic. Documents that leaked in 2019 showed that the president of Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez, an architect of the current plan, had sought to create an earlier iteration of a competition involving the biggest teams.
The role FIFA will play in the fight over the Super League is intriguing, too. Its president, Gianni Infantino, has talked in recent years of creating new competitions to increase interest in soccer around the globe. As part of that push, he has given his backing to a 20-team superleague in Africa.
FIFA issued a statement late Sunday in which it reiterated that it would not support a closed breakaway competition. The Super League’s founders, though, insisted that their event is not completely closed, since they plan to provide access every season to five teams outside the 15 founding members.
Ceferin said he expected Infantino to dispel any doubts about his position on Tuesday when he addresses UEFA’s annual meeting.
For now, UEFA and other groups opposed to the new competition are huddling to discuss their legal options, and engaging in talks with governments across Europe as well as with the European Union. Ceferin praised some of the politicians who have publicly condemned the Super League plan, including Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, and France’s president, Emmanuel Macron.
Yet he also offered an olive branch to the rebel clubs.
He told them it was not too late to come back from the brink. While relationships have been damaged, he said, he vowed to act professionally for the benefit of European soccer. While he felt betrayed by the “greediness, selfishness and narcissism” of some of those involved, he would not — with the possible exception of Agnelli — make things personal. Ceferin is the godfather to Agnelli’s youngest child.