Real Madrid was one of the founders of FIFA in 1904 and is one of the Founding Clubs of the Super League in 2021. Santiago Bernabéu as president of Real Madrid and Gabriel Hanot as editor of L'Équipe launched the European Cup in 1955. It has been 117 years since the first event and 66 years since the second. 2021 is the paradigm shift of football as we know it to this day. And Real Madrid is once again the cornerstone on which the football business revolves.
The Superliga already has a face and eyes. That of Florentino Pérez as the first president. The news spread on Sunday 18 April 2021 but was not made official until after Real Madrid had finished their match against Getafe. Precautionary press releases circulated throughout the day from leagues and federations against any competition other than UEFA's Champions League. Communiqués threatened clubs with expulsion from domestic competitions, with players' cards not being issued, with players being prevented from defending their country's shirt and other exaggerated and unfounded measures. The RFEF joined forces with LaLiga in a note describing the Superliga as "cynical" and saying that it was "based on the self-interest of a few clubs".
There is no doubt that the reactions to the rumour portrayed the critics. They brought out the heavy artillery against an idea and now they are going to run out of ammunition. They have shown that their stance is only driven by their interest in maintaining their football model and they are using TV contracts to intimidate. The Super League presided over by Florentino Pérez is already underway and the parties are condemned to come to an understanding in two years' time if they do not want to completely dynamite football. It will be football for the rich against football for the poor.
They call themselves Founding Clubs and they are AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid CF and Tottenham Hotspur. This is how they appear in the press release. In perfect alphabetical order. Pérez conducts the orchestra, hence his constant trips to Turin and his calling of elections on a holy Thursday night. Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus and vice-president of the Superliga, lives in the Alps. The third in discord, the second vice-president, is Joel Glazer, co-president of Manchester United. Three football stalwarts as a business model. Three leaders who are used to handling huge amounts of money in their businesses and who see how football is continually undervalued in the market. They don't know how to lose money.
The Superliga was born out of the weariness of the big European football clubs. They are tired of the business resting on them. They are tired of their stadiums being theatres of dreams. Of paying millions of euros to players who get injured in a Germany-Andorra match. Tired of being powerful. Of not winning as much as they could win together. The middle class is too much for them, let alone the sixteenth round of the Copa del Rey. They don't want the handouts from their country's TV. Nor do they appreciate UEFA's efforts to remake the Champions League. They want more because they can get more. But they have to stick together. The elite of European football competing against each other without low-profile matches.
I would venture to say that they could take on the countless sanctions that FIFA, UEFA and their federations want to impose on them. That financial gain will remain more important. They would be able to reduce their star players' playing load in exchange for doubling their salaries and for giving up their national team. What's wrong with that? The new football born out of the old football is going to cause a lot of problems if the two sides don't come to a cordial understanding.
It's not the NBA of football, it's the MLS of football. Not because of the chaotic calendar system that we don't understand in Europe, but because of its structural principles. There they are called franchises, here they are called Founding Clubs. In the American league, new teams have to meet a series of economic, sporting and social requirements because their football is unfinished. Here the merit would be sporting only. The 12 brave ones will be joined by three more who did not want to come forward in the first instance. Germany and France, starting with Bayern and PSG would be the most expected. After that, a 'qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievement in the prior season'. This is the excuse that the Super League is keeping for itself so as not to appear too elitist. FIFA has already called this system a "separatist league".
There is still a lot of game left to play. The Super League has come out of the bar and is putting the domestic leagues in check. Even modern football is going to get old.