Last week 12 European soccer clubs tried to form a Super League. The clubs were from Spain (Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona), Italy (Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus Turin) and England (Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham). The two German power teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, turned down the offer. It all blew up like a soap bubble in one day. That’s because the reaction of the mass media, the other clubs and the fans was overwhelming. And, the UEFA (European Federation) and FIFA (International Federation) threatened sanctions.
If we were to see something similar in the USA, it might look like this: the 12 most storied programs in NCAA Basketball decide to go their own way, dropping out of their respective conferences to form their own league, play their own schedule, have their own TV rights, and so forth. Let’s say UCLA, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and four other schools announced their intention to do that. I’m sure the uproar would be deafening. Same if 12 NBA teams with the biggest markets and tradition tried to break away from the NBA itself.
I wrote an article on all this for La Gazzetta dello Sport. Let’s just say I did not go lightly with regard to the hypocrisy involved. Florentino Perez, President of Real Madrid, said the Super League would be good for all of European Soccer Football. Please. I’m not on board for that. Such a league would have put the rest of European soccer in a bad spot. Then, the interesting part of all this was that the fans of the 12 teams tore into their clubs for wanting to do such a thing. So it was, as they say, an idea programmed to fail. And they failed. The presidents of the 12 teams involved are being vilified daily.
I am of the idea they made several huge mistakes in doing this. One, they stepped all over their own charisma by showing they had no class or ‘historic memory.’ Two, they basically said to everyone else, “We are important and you are not. What’s more, we don’t want to play against you any more.” If we're talking about material for bulletin boards across England, Spain and Italy, that’s a classic example. And, you know what? A few of the 12 presidents are saying it’s a good idea and might happen. Well, why am I not one bit surprised by that? Sports suicide, on Live TV.