(CNN)Twelve of the top football clubs in Europe made an announcement Sunday that may shift the landscape of European football.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspur jointly announced their intentions to form a new league, which they referred to as the Super League.
The group plans to add three additional clubs before the Super League’s inaugural season, which is “intended to commence as soon as is practicable.”
The joint statement says the league will ultimately consist of 20 clubs and be governed by the founding clubs.
It says the global pandemic “has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model” and that talks with football stakeholders had not solved “fundamental issues” with the format of European competitions.
“By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid,” said Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and vice-chairman of the Super League.
FIFA, football’s global governing body, issued a statement denouncing the formation of the league.
Citing what it said were its core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity, and equitable financial redistribution, the statement said: “FIFA can only express its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles.”
“FIFA always stands for unity in world football and calls on all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive, and balanced dialogue for the good of the game and in the spirit of solidarity and fair play. FIFA will, of course, do whatever is necessary to contribute to a harmonized way forward in the overall interests of football,” the statement said.
Joint statement of condemnation
Prior to Sunday’s announcement, European football’s governing body — along with several other governing bodies and leagues — had issued a joint statement condemning the formation of a European Super League. UEFA — which oversees all European football — along with the English, Spanish, and Italian governing bodies and the top-flight leagues from those three countries co-signed the statement.
“We wish to reiterate that we — UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations — will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever,” their statement read in part. “We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.”
The UK’s Premier League also issued a separate statement criticizing its formation.
“A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper,” it said.
The English Football Association issued a statement ahead of confirmation of the Super League’s formation, saying that it would be “damaging to English and European football at all levels.”
“We would not provide permission to any competition that would be damaging to English football, and will take any legal and/or regulatory action necessary to protect the broader interests of the game,” it said.
Christian Seifert, CEO of the German Football Association, said his organization opposes the concept of a European Super League.
“Economic interest of a few top clubs in England, Italy, and Spain should not lead to the abolishment of established structures in European football as a consequence,” Seifert said in a statement. Seifert added that it would be “irresponsible to irreparably damage the national leagues as the basis of European professional football.”
League says it will help football ‘take its rightful place
Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid and the first chairman of the Super League, disagrees with critics of his group’s potential impact on the sport.
Pérez said in a statement: “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.”
The Super League said its founding clubs “look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole.”
The organizers of the Super League also announced plans to launch a corresponding women’s league “as soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition.”
In a statement issued in January, FIFA said that it would not recognize a European Super League and went so far as to say that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation.”
In UEFA’s Sunday statement, it referenced FIFA’s earlier statement stressing that Super League clubs “will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.”