By now, every football fan has read about the new European super league that has been launched by the 12 ‘founding clubs’ around England, Spain, and Italy. Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid are the 12 clubs that have agreed to be part of the new league. There will be 3 additional clubs joining before the inaugural season which is believed to be happening as soon as possible.
This news was met with a lot of backlash from fans all around the world and statements from governing football bodies all around Europe. UEFA and FIFA in a statement quoted that all participating clubs will be banned from their players participating in International games including the World Cup and the Euros.
This will come as a huge blow to African players who play for the respective European clubs with the upcoming Afcon tournament set for early next year.
UEFA, European football’s governing body whose Champions League would be replaced by the ESL, said: “The clubs concerned 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. We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up for this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”
This could mean that players like Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, and Hakim Ziyech and many other African players in Europe whose countries have qualified for the AFCON tournament will not participate in the tournament.
However, the group of the 12 countries have sent a letter in response to UEFA’s and FIFA’s statements by making sure that the governing bodies know that there are rules protecting the players. The statement read :
“We are concerned that FIFA and UEFA may respond to this invitation letter by seeking to take punitive measures to exclude any participating club or player from their respective competitions
“Your formal statement does, however, compel us to take protective steps to secure ourselves against such an adverse reaction, which would not only jeopardize the funding commitment under the Grant but, significantly, would be unlawful. For this reason, SLCo (Super League Company) has filed a motion before the relevant courts in order to ensure the seamless establishment and operation of the Competition in accordance with applicable laws.
“It is our duty, as SLCo’s board members, to ensure that all reasonable actions available to protect the interests of the Competition and our stakeholders are duly taken, given the irreparable damage that would be suffered if, for any reason, we were deprived of the opportunity to form promptly the Competition and distribute the proceeds of the Grant.”
What we have to do as football fans is to wait and see how all this will play out.