Leicester City winning the Premier League title in the 2015-16 season was the ultimate 'David and Goliath' story coming to fruition. A local club that never tasted any top-tier success in English football, came out of nowhere and claimed the much-coveted title, beating the best of the best in English Football.
That's the beauty of football, the most popular game on Earth. A game crafted in the hands of the working class, often revered as a religion in many parts of the world.
But all of that's about to change for the worse. We all heard the rumours for months; the bombshell confirmation came last night.
On April 18, the 'self-proclaimed' top European clubs banded together to declare the inauguration of a new league competition- The European Super League. The 12 European clubs that have agreed to partake in this competition are FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid from Spain; Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs from England; Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan from Italy.
Although the details remain murky, the ESL would reportedly be a 20-team tournament where fifteen (15) of the teams would be considered 'Founding Members' and will be cushioned from relegation for 20 years. The other five (05) teams would be chosen based on performances in their respective leagues in the previous seasons.
While the aforementioned teams have promised to keep playing in the domestic leagues, in a jam-packed football calendar, that seems highly unlikely. Even if it were possible, that would result in the over-exhaustion of players and heightened risks of injury. On top of that, it is highly unlikely that the Uefa would stop organising the Champions League and might retaliate to such a decision by the top clubs.
According to Fiorentino Perez, Real Madrid President and reportedly the first Chairman of ESL, "We have to agree on a new European Super League which guarantees that the best always play the best - something that does not happen in the Champions League."
But that's what fans want, right? The bests playing against the bests? Watching the titans clash every Tuesday night should be a dream come true, No? No.
The fans have been devastated and furious with the declaration and considering this to be the end of football as we know it.
Although ESL proponents argue that it is only the local fans who are furious as their clubs won't get to participate in the Super League, the reality is quite different. Football fans from all around the world as well as former players and managers have come together in denouncing the declaration of this tournament.
But why the fury? Football fans should have been happy to get the opportunity to experience the likes of Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland playing against each other regularly, right?
Why would they want to endure months of group stage matches where Real Madrid battles it out against Shakhtar Donetsk or Manchester United plays against Galatasaray. Why would they want to wait till semi-finals of the UCL when they could watch them play against each other on a regular basis?
Primarily because football fans believe in fairy tales. They believe in the triumph over the impossible and roots for it to happen. If this exclusionary, controversial, abomination of a tournament is allowed to play out, teams like AS Roma will not triumph over Barcelona in a legendary comeback, AS Monaco would not reach the semi-finals of the Champions League against all odds and Kylian Mbappe would probably not be discovered.
Fairy tales would cease to exist in the beautiful game. A fanbase that considers the game to be a religion, ESL would effectively take away the spirituality from it.
Secondly, European Super League would inflict irreversible damage in the entire nature of club football and everything good about it. While the pro-ESL pundits argue that people should let go of tradition and face reality, that's oversimplifying the circumstances.
The introduction of ESL would most likely stagnate the growth of professional football in a way that all the other clubs at the different level would receive a much smaller share of revenue compared to the status quo. The richer clubs would keep getting richer from the gargantuan revenues they will collect from the ESL. Reportedly, each team will be offered £310 million just to join the competition and the revenue from this project would be somewhere around $15.5 billion.
On top of that, it would erode the culture of travelling supporters where fans from one club travel to another city for a football match. Ancient rivalries would get trivialised as most of them would not meet each other anymore in football matches. In short, the local football fans would be deceived and the history behind these rivalries may fade away with the passage of time.
Thirdly, the European Super League grants cushion to the founding clubs from being relegated, reportedly for about 20 years. It is fundamentally immoral for the so-called top clubs to exclude themselves from everyone else just because they are rich.
Except for Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and PSG, all other clubs belonging to the top-15 richest club list have signed on for the European Super League. Bayern and Dortmund could not sign up, as both clubs are mostly owned by their fans and it would not be that easy for them to join a venture like this, thanks to German Federation's 50+1 rule. On the other hand, PSG did not sign up for the project as their owner Naser Al Khelaifi is part of the Uefa.
Furthermore, Manchester United, Arsenal and AC Milan have only been a shadow of their selves in the past few years to an extent they could not even qualify for the UCL.
The pattern is clear as water. This project has no relationship with meritocracy but is a shameless cash-grab venture fuelled by greed and anti-competitive behaviour.
Most importantly, the European Super League is a betrayal of the working-class roots football came from. This is a classic tale of corporate greed and the corrosive ramifications of untethered capitalism; something that cannot be allowed to go on.
We all know that Fifa and Uefa are not perfect as showcased by scandalous dealings by Fifa to let Qatar host the 2022 World Cup, a case where former Uefa boss Michel Platini was also implicated.
While the proponents of ESL may bring these points up, I would simply argue, to replace one evil with a greater is never the solution; rather an excuse to hide behind.
If European Super League is allowed to go ahead, football will be damaged irreversibly and result in heartbreak for billions of fans worldwide. So it's imperative that both Uefa and Fifa, for once in our lifetime, stand up for what's right and reprimand the clubs involved harshly.