July 20, 2024

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Spain Stands Alone in Opposition to Joint Declaration Against Super League

Team Spain poses for the UEFA Euro 2024 group. On November 19, 2023, Spain and Georgia will play a qualifying football match at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium in Valladolid. (AFP)

Spain was not among the 26 European countries that signed a joint declaration Thursday opposing the contentious Super League football project, ahead of the UEFA Congress in Paris.

The letter, signed by sports ministers from across the continent, emphasizes the importance of open competition and does not specifically mention the Super League, but it is unequivocally opposed to the concept.

Only two clubs, Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, remain publicly committed to the Super League project, a closed competition designed to replace the UEFA Champions League, European club football’s flagship event.

According to the letter, the ministers “invite sport governing bodies to organise sporting competitions in compliance with the principles of openness, equal opportunities, sporting merit, link between annual performance in domestic competitions and all European competitions, financial solidarity, integrity and equity.”

It comes after the European Union’s Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in December that FIFA and UEFA violated competition law by blocking the breakaway league.

In early 2021, 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs announced they had signed up for the planned Super League, sparking a furious backlash from fans and a stark warning from UEFA that clubs and players who participated would be barred from competitions such as the World Cup.

Within 48 hours, nine of the 12 rebel clubs, including six from the English Premier League, backed down, and the project was abandoned.

The project’s promoters, A22 Sports Management, filed a legal challenge in Spanish courts, which referred the case to the ECJ.

A22 was formed to push through a new European Super League after the first plan sparked widespread protests from football fans.

A22 celebrated victory after last December’s ruling, promising to launch a new project with 64 teams from across Europe divided into three divisions with promotion and relegation built into their system.

Many big clubs, including those who had tentatively supported the previous venture, have said they will not support the new plan.

“(We) support the key features of a European sport model, including the pyramidal structure, the open system of promotion and relegation, the grassroots approach and solidarity, the sport’s role in national identity,” the letter goes on to say.

It also urged sports authorities to “preserve such key features and values and, in this regard, secure the balance between the economic dimension of sport and its educational and social functions”.

Regarding Spain’s absence from the list of signatories, a source within the Spanish sports council referred directly to the Super League.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are eager to participate in the European Super League.

“The Spanish government decided not to sign the declaration… because the Super League matter is unresolved,” a person familiar with the matter said.

They added that Spain is the only EU country where judicial proceedings involving the breakaway league are still ongoing.

Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, stated last week that the Super League “could start next season, or in 2025-26, and if not, I will rethink everything.”

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