While the suspension of the proposed European Super League is a big win for football fans, they must not stop there.
The last 72 hours have been utterly chaotic in the world of football. The prospect of a European Super League turned the sport on its head and threatened to extinguish its long-standing traditions.
The saying “football is nothing without the fans” seemed to ring true on Tuesday, when Chelsea supporters gathered outside of Stamford Bridge in protest of The Super League. By the end of the night all of the “top six” who has entered the proposed Super League had withdrawn from the competition.
Maybe the fans do matter after all. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small victory for those that the game is supposedly for.
For the love of the game
It is incredibly ironic that UEFA, FIFA and Sky Sports will be remembered as being on the side of saving football.
Sky “passionately articulated the views of football fans”, in their statement on the Super League. The same Sky Sports that charges fans nearly €80 a month to watch the Premier League. It was not too long ago that Sky Sports and the Premier League devised the diabolical pay-per-view model for select games, in the middle of a pandemic no less.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin claimed that “UEFA and the footballing world are united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposals we have seen, fuelled purely by greed”.
It would appear to be the first time UEFA has ever been united with the footballing world. The same UEFA that placed the 2019 Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan – despite Chelsea and Arsenal being the finalists, roughly a nine hour flight for fans.
UEFA and FIFA’s shady decisions are well documented at this point. The corruption of the game has always been apparent in the minds of fans. But the Super League was where the line was crossed and the shameless greed of those in charge of football’s biggest teams reared its ugly head.
Fans showed that they can only be exploited so much before retaliating. The question now is whether or not this momentous win for whatever integrity football has left is a stand-alone incident, or the spark for wider change.
While organisations like FIFA, UEFA and Sky are to blame for facilitating the gargantuan wealth and power that these teams were able to garner, fans must also accept that they idly sat and watched the game they love fall into the wrong hands.
Turning the other cheek
It is a tragic state that fans find themselves in. An undying love for a club drives you to turn a blind eye to the wrongdoings of it. I write this as a Manchester United fan that bought a green and gold “Love United Hate The Glazers” scarf before entering Old Trafford to watch my very first match.
Beyond even the financial side of the game, football fans have tolerated utter atrocities.
If the reaction towards the Qatar World Cup and the 6,500 migrant workers that have died as a consequence of preparing for it had been the same as the reaction towards the Super League, perhaps football could begin to be in a better place.
The same can be said for the tolerance towards racism in football. The sport’s governing bodies have done very little to make an example of those found guilty of racial acts, and so have fans.
Patrick Bamford said on Monday night that it was a shame that the reaction towards The Super League was not on the same level when it comes to racism.
Comparing supporter’s outrage online at Ondrej Kudela’s 10-match ban for racially abusing Glen Kamara, against the actions – or lack of – taken by supporters in regards to the issue, Bamford’s words are a damning observation of where the footballing world’s priorities lie.
It will be interesting to see if fans continue to voice their opinions against those at the top of the game. The new Champions League reforms are just as elitist as The Super League, only with the disguise of fairness that football has worn so well for the past decade.
The owners of the clubs that entered The Super League will surely be held accountable too.
The past few days have revealed a lot about the sport and the people that make it what it is. The coming days, weeks and months will reveal a lot more about those same people.
Will football fans look to take back their game and begin to push for change, or will they idly sit by, consuming what they always have while the fire burns around them?