FIFA & Money

Never in my entire existence has there been a bigger furore over a football matter than last weekend’s announcement that 6 English clubs, including mine, Arsenal, had signed up to a new “Super” league, effectively brandishing two fingers up at every other club in the country, and every other competition in Europe. 

Owner – Stan Kroenke

Joined by six other leading sides from the rest of the continent, these twelve would play in a separate mid-week competition, in which none of the clubs could fail. There would be no relegation, so a team could lose all its matches, and still remain in the business class of European Football. American-style. Maybe playing some games in Singapore, Sydney or New York. Effectively, taking the game away from its core supporters, and destroying 150 years of history and tradition.

And make no mistake – this was nothing to do with protecting a club’s future. This was purely and simply greed, a plan to make multi-billionaires even richer.

Luckily, there was a major flaw in the plan. The owners of these six English clubs, remember, all multi-billionaires, three of them American, somehow forgot to tell the manager, the players, and most importantly, the fans, about their plans. Huge mistake. Utter incompetence. Frightening arrogance, a crippling clusterfuck.

FIFA Headquarters

You see, these owners are not used to seeing their plans and selfish visions being stopped by mere plebs like me and hundreds of thousands of other football fans in the country. So the protests were immediate and so devastatingly critical that within 48 hours, the whole idea had crumpled into the worst public relations disaster for each of the owners involved.

So why were so many people, newspapers, sports channels, commentators and players so against this European Super League? What the owners were completely unaware of is what makes the game of football, and of course all sports, actually work. It’s not about the top teams always winning. It’s also about David v Goliath. Just four seasons ago, a well-run mid-table team, Leicester City, without any huge star players, got the better of the big names, Manchester United and City, Liverpool, Arsenal and all, and won the coveted Premiership title.

You see, in the European model, this is still possible. It is what has made the game so popular. Wherever your team are at this moment, the system allows you to dream that one day, based on merit only and not how much money your club has, you could join the big boys. And yes, the big boys could well fall from grace unless they perform well. It’s based on ability and results on the pitch, and nothing else. It works. ‘Twas ever thus. It’s not perfect, and money is certainly chipping away at the basic principles. But it’s still what makes the game tick.

Roger Bara

Sport based on anything but merit is not sport. It’s show-business. Leave it to the Yanks, they love that stuff. We don’t.

But you know what? This was an inevitable, if failed, move by the rich. It’s what happens when investors replace custodians, and it stinks.

The Empire Strikes Back

First: The hyper-rich belong to no nation. They may speak with accents but they have no nation and their only loyalty is to money. 

Second: You will find few Americans who give a damn about FIFA. I’m in this group: they are simply another powerful multi-national corporation. Like The IOC, these rich money grubbers hide behind ideals they themselves believe to be bullshit.

Third: The Super League has nothing to do soccer, the game is simply another method transfer wealth from the masses to the rich. 

Don’t believe this is unrelated to soccer? Here is what I said in these pages several months back: “…my thought was that the effect the virus has had is to compress what would have taken a full decade into several months.

I went on: “I will argue a great many issues will be sorted out in 2021, not 2031. So the question becomes is this positive? Most folks hate change with a passion. Look, if something as insignificant as Windows 10 moving your icons can bring out hordes with pitchforks, how do you think the masses will respond to actual change?”

The Super League was actually the virus league and nothing more. Perhaps you think I overstate my case? The Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, said the financial loses from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is one of the reasons why he chose to team up with other top clubs to break away. “Something must be done and the pandemic hastened that. We are all ruined.” Ruined? Poor guy, I bet he only makes a few million this year… this is terrible.

FIFA – Star Chamber Style Conference Room

So back into the warm embrace of FIFA, the community minded charity that gives the children hope. Across the planet little lambs will still be allowed to play the Beautiful Game. That was close.

Except it wasn’t; FIFA executives were paid millions in bribes to vote for the World Cup to be played in Russia and Qatar, according to an indictment published by the United States Department of Justice. These clowns also belong in jail, except we don’t put the hyper-rich in jail.

In a video posted on Liverpool’s social media channels on Wednesday morning, club owner John W. Henry, thought to be one of the principal drivers behind the Super League, said he was so very sorry, in an American accent.

Photograph of Dean Lewis

English fans were told their voices are so important that no club would move without their support. What a steaming pile. The truth is no club would move if it resulted in reduced revenue.

So one group of rich people tried to snatch several billion from another group of rich people. And failed. The Empire Strikes Back.

The football Super League: revolution or treason?   

Check out these well-known names to any football fan: Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico, Inter, Milan, and Juventus.

Are they revolutionaries or traitors? Pioneers of the football’s bright future or dark forces of greed and envy dragging us behind, hitting the moral ground?

Now even most of these clubs’ fans think this is not about competition and sportsmanship but about greediness and money. The American model, with no build-in rotation mechanism in place, such as the MLS or the NHL, might just not work on the European soil.  

Sure, there’re some serious ethical questions arising. We’re actually talking about a close club of self-proclaimed ‘gods of football’ fighting on the top of the Olympus Mont with all the others, from nameless one-horse towns across Europe, silently sitting at the foothills, watching the divine battles up in the sky, behind the clouds.  

With the first news about the Super League, I felt outrage: how dare they to so cynically position themselves into god-like actors? Especially when some of the clubs joining it, let’s be honest, currently being far from the top such as Inter, Arsenal or Chelsea, by any performance standards.

Just more audience, more advertising, and… more money, you got it!

On the other hand, the newly-born project is not completely closed, allowing five best clubs from the rest of the world to join it: based on their actual football achievements. Plus, when the current Champions League was coming into effect instead of the Cup of European Champions in the early 1990s, there were lots of voices thundering: why national champions should play second, third or even fourth place teams from other countries??

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

Now we can’t imagine football without the Champions League. 

Who knows what might be tomorrow?