Super League — A Window into Dystopia
A year ago, a window into dystopia opened for football fans. Owners of the most powerful European clubs drew the curtain up, anticipating fans to get delirious by the spectacle of the most glamourous projects of all — the Super League.
But there was no light, whatsoever, coming in from that window. There were only sights of once beloved game, now covered in pale gold, fake smiles of football idols and the smell of rotten passion — that one you could see in a dull look of Roman Abramovich when the camera catches him in the VIP lounge of the Stamford Bridge. Fans didn’t like what they saw, they took the streets, and said: “Pull the freaking curtains down!”
In the unstable times when capitalism is reaching the pinnacle and it is eating itself out of greed, that window into dystopia emerges more often. The process is always the same:
- A severe and unprecedented action is taken
- That action naturally creates a strong rebellion movement
- The action is abolished
- In the times that come, the elements of that action slowly creep in with a slight of change in form. But at that point, perhaps, it is not about dystopia anymore, but it is, rather, about evolution (?)
Think of lockdown!
That was a proper dystopian mind-fuck. Even if you convince me lockdown was perfectly logical and justified due to the unprecedented global health situation, I find it difficult not to see it as a window into a dystopian society. The purpose of lockdown might have been protection of people, but protection and control are two sides of the same coin. Total protection means total control. Total control, in my book, means dystopia. Long story short, the rebellion movement happened, a part of the population said no to dystopia and, perhaps, in the combination with improving medical situation, lockdown was cancelled.
However, even though lockdown is gone, some side-elements of it, such as censorship, reformed laws that diminish protestors’ rights, and increased technological surveillance will stay with us.
Back to the Super League!
In my world, the Super League attempt from the last year was as much of a window into footballing dystopia as lockdown was a window into dystopia. As things usually are in football, the rebellion against the Super League was swift. However, some elements of footballing dystopia have remained…
And UEFA might be the channel for those elements to creep in. But, perhaps, that is not dystopia anymore, but evolution (?)
Wow! UEFA and that gangster-minded president of its Aleksander Čeferin must have never received such a compliment.
UEFA is evolution??
Let me explain.
A year ago, 12 of the most influential football clubs signed a contract to start the European Super League, a breakaway competition where they would play between each other all season long. It would have meant the end of football as we know it because those clubs are essential for the whole of football. For instance, in England (and I assume partly in Spain and Italy) the ‘big six’ clubs due to the TV right money and other sources of income sustain the whole of the pyramid of English football, from the first division up to 10th division, or whatever.
Fans, especially English ones where the impact of football clubs is vital for local communities, rebelled against football elites and forced owners of the six English clubs to leave the project. Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid followed. The Super League fell apart with only three clubs remaining in the seat — Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.
Or has it fallen apart?
One year on, Florentino Perez, Joan Laporta and Andrea Agnelli, executives of the three remaining clubs, claim the idea of the Super League is alive and soon it will become reality — with English clubs included! The case of the Super League is currently being dragged through the courts where the mentioned executives and their representatives are trying to prove that all 12 clubs are bound with a contract and that the Super League must go through.
Perez, Laporta and Agnelli claim they want to save football which was severely hit by lockdown. Fans don’t think it is about protection, but rather of full control of football money.
Total protection = total control.
Total control = dystopia.
Just as fans, UEFA believes the whole of European football is endangered, so UEFA is at the forefront of the resistance.
Even though UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin claims the Super League is dead in the water, he knows better than anybody that those 12 guys who he calls a ‘dirty dozen’ are undoubtedly 12 of the most powerful people in the world of football (Minus Roman Abramovich who is being forced to sell Chelsea due to relationship with Vladimir Putin.)
Those 12 football oligarchs will keep on insisting on the Super League, while Aleksander Čeferin will keep on denying the project. Aleksander Čeferin understands the severity of the situation and he is aware he will need to offer the ‘dirty dozen’ something in order to keep them under control.
The aftermath is the new format of the Champions League, the competition under the auspices of UEFA. As proposed, from the season 2024/2025, the competition will radically change the form and there are some proposals on the table that remind of the Super League project itself.
One of the most intriguing parts of the Super League is the concept of the league, where there is no relegation from the league and no promotion in the league. Football, as every romantic football fan will tell you, is the best sport in the world because the weak can beat the powerful (Marcelo Bielsa). Apart from all the sociological and economical reasons, the idea that those 12 clubs would stay in the league no matter what is the one that particularly annoyed fans.
There is a proposal on the table for the new Champions League format that some clubs would qualify to the competition based on historic performance and not on their league position.
It is creeping in! Slowly! The game is evolving. And that is what makes us terrified.