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Not So “Super” European Super League

Soccer

The GIST: The not so “super” European Super League (ESL) is kind of folding just as quickly as it started.

April 22, 2021
Source: NBC Sports Soccer/Twitter
Source: NBC Sports Soccer/Twitter

Sunday: As we reported in Monday’s newsletter, 12 of the top European soccer clubs announced late Sunday that they were forming the ESL. The announcement came as a total shock, even to some of the teams’ players and coaches.

  • The 12 founding ESL clubs planned to ditch the UEFA Champions League (the top club competition in soccer) and run their own, more North American-style elite tournament. The reason? Money and power, naturally.
  • For a full explainer on the proposed ESL, and a look at the detrimental impact it would have had on women’s soccer, check out this week’s episode of The GIST of It.

Monday: Within about 12 hours, UEFA and FIFA introduced a ban to prevent ESL players from participating in the Euros and World Cup, respectively. And though a Spanish court ruled against the ban, the damage had already been done. Fans took to the streets in protest, analysts dragged the ESL on live TV, and players and coaches aired their grievances publicly.

Tuesday: By the end of the day, all six English clubs pulled out, leaving the three Spanish and three Italian teams on thin ice. Public outrage — including that from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Duke of Cambridge — continued. Twitter had a field day.

Wednesday: And then there were two. By yesterday, only FC Barcelona and Real Madrid (pronounced REY-al) — whose president Florentino Perez was the driving force behind the ESL — are keeping quiet. Technically the league is just “suspended,” but with dwindling membership, no new prospects and a terrible public image, it’s just a matter of time before it’s officially dead.

We’ll give the ESL this: it would’ve been interesting to watch. But at what cost? We’ll take a newly-refurbished Champions League, a steadily-improving women’s game, and a strong European grassroots program over that elitist BS any day.