Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic, many people might say that this has been one of the most hectic years ever. With the whole world flipped on its head, and of course, the massive presidential election, there has been a lot of fuel for headlines. And while the realm of sports has been affected, along with every other aspect of life, it has undoubtedly been one of the more quiet areas of discussion. Until just a few weeks ago, when all of professional soccer, the world’s most popular sport, was hijacked and turned around into what fans could only perceive as a horrible threat to the beautiful sport that so many love. This abomination of greed and distrust was known as the European Super League or the ESL.
The ESL would have completely changed the structure of European Soccer. European soccer works in a pyramid style, where any team can be raised or lowered at the end of a season, depending on how well they did. The height of European Football is the Champion’s League, a knockout-style tournament that teams from around Europe compete at the Domestic level to qualify for. The ESL would ruin the beloved tournament and replace it with an entirely new structure. The most insulting part of ESL is the permanent membership. Fifteen founding teams could never get knocked out of the League, no matter how poor their standings were. The five teams that would have to earn their way would not have immunity, even if they were better than all of the founding teams. This would go against the very basis of European soccer.
On the 18th of April, 2020, the clubs officially announced their plans, although rumors had been floating around for a while already. It was no secret that many clubs were unhappy about the amount of revenue they were receiving, so UEFA had decided to change the structure of the Champion’s League, making teams play more games resulting in more revenue. However, there had already been some pushback against this much more subtle change that would not even take place until 2024. The big announcement came just after a meeting between UEFA and the clubs, which added to the sense of betrayal. It took only days for the ESL to be disbanded. With so many people protesting the plans, it did not take long for riots to start. In London, Chelsea fans stopped their own bus full of players from entering the stadium to play. Elsewhere, fans broke into stadiums and took down support banners. With waves of criticism on social media and on the streets from roaring crowds, it became apparent that the ESL would remain an idea and nothing more.
Weeks after the ESL died out, fans still were rioting against the owners of the clubs. In Manchester, an important match between Liverpool and Manchester United had to be postponed due to swarms of angry fans that had broken into the stadium in protest to the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United. There have also been boycotts on the club’s sponsors, putting further pressure on the owners. Millions of fans are now mad at their owners, a common complaint being how American they are. At the end of the day, the people won this time around, and for the moment, soccer is safe and remains the beautiful sport that it is.