An ethical dive into the near monopolization of European soccer
Written by Trinh Ho
Soccer’s global appeal may be attributed to the fact that it is a sport that is accessible to anybody and anywhere around the world. Historically, teams from all continents have competed and had the opportunity to become the greatest, regardless of the club’s previous performance or financial power. Soccer has a long tradition of being a free market, with clubs of different sizes and history to compete for the multitude of large and small fanbases. That was the charm of the various league in Europe until the formation of the Super League shattered the trust of millions of fans worldwide.
In April of 2021, 12 of the richest soccer clubs in the world(which are all located in Europe) joined forces and formed the European Super League. The Super League teams were chosen based on their ability to generate revenue and the talents they bring into a star-studded league. At the core of the formation of the league was Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez whose reason to propose the league was to save soccer in its most dire times. The pandemic affected everyone and the super-rich soccer clubs were not an exception. Teams were forced to play without fans and thus drove tickets revenue to a halt, 12 of the core teams suffered major financial losses. The Super League proposed goal is to exclusively drive revenue streams up for its participants. According to supporters of the Super League, the problem with the existing Champions League, Europa League, and domestic league systems are that smaller clubs draw a part of the money away from the more popular teams who bring in the most money.
Apart from financial gains, the league proposed that there will be 12 founding clubs that will permanently be a part of the competition with 8 others that rotates based on league standings around Europe. This proposal didn’t sit well with the public and the media, soccer has always been a free market where every team is given the opportunity to compete and rise up to achieve glory. The clubs in the Super League are no different, they have all been up and down the different tiers of their respective countries.
The battle while seemingly a fight between the Super League and different governing bodies, the fans made sure that there were heard. Protests broke out around Europe with messages such as “Created by the poor, stolen by the rich” and “you are nothing without us(the fans)’. The messages were spread quickly and within 3 days of the proposal of the league, it collapsed with 9 teams out of the 12 withdrawing from competing with fear of more public backlash and heavier sanctions by the governing bodies.
The Super League doesn’t stand for what a free market should be. In any sports league, the balance between what the club wants should not outweigh the demands of the public. Monopolizing an industry as old and as storied as soccer put questions of ethical concerns on the teams that decided to join it in the first place. Soccer competition is designed to give every team that wishes to do so a place to compete fairly and while big clubs have the budget to purchase different talents and infrastructures, every team should be given a fair shot to progress. The Super League is taking away the integrity of how soccer leagues should be operating. The gains of the few are in no way benefiting the goods of the many. A monopoly soccer league that would have gained all the funding, media attention, and endorsements is leaving dreams and public trust in dismay.
The different clubs that withdrew reacted quickly to the outrage by withdrawing but how will the fans react moving forward? The clubs sent a clear message by joining the Super League to state that they are for-profit and the fans are just revenue streams. Was withdrawing from the league just a peaceful way to appease an angry mob or was it just to put a veil over a mismanaged proposal to fix the current faults in the current soccer landscape? The formation of the Super League put the spotlight on various issues of how soccer is being run, while the Super League is in no shape the best alternative, it shows that if there is mismanagement in a competitive league teams can find different ways to better themselves as businesses.
The Super League is a great example of how the current economic standards around the world. While capitalism is a model that been The rich will get richer, while the poor are not given a fair chance of becoming successful. We learned about the “marketplace of ideas” as a place where the public can choose which brand or firm is good.