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Why MLS Fans Should Care About the European Super League

Twelve of Europe's biggest teams have announced their intentions to create the European Super League as a replacement for the current Champion's League format. These clubs are: AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham. The league hopes to add at least three more permanent members in addition to five qualifiers that rotate in on an annual basis.

The 12 clubs have maintained their desire to continue play in their domestic leagues, but UEFA, FIFA, and other governing bodies are seeking to punish the move by banning teams from these leagues, along with banning participating players from participation in international competitions. They feel the punishment is necessary to make sure that soccer is governed by the proper channels, and that smaller clubs are not left by the wayside. For the USMNT, this means that Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen, Sergino Dest, Conrad de le Fuente, Weston McKennie, and more could be forbidden from playing in Nations League and Gold Cup this summer and more importantly, the World Cup and its qualifiers this fall.

The US desperately needs these players available in order to qualify for the World Cup. As for the MLS, international soccer is the catalyst that the league needs to grow and be sustainable long term. In order to attract new fans in the country, the USMNT needs to be in front of large audiences who only tune in for big games. Losing out on the Olympics three times in a row is bad enough, but missing out on the World Cup twice would be disastrous. The 2026 World Cup is already being circled as a way to grow MLS further, so the country needs positive momentum in 2022 for that to be realistic. New fans are not going to be attracted to American soccer if the national team (who may automatically qualify as the host nation) comes out and loses all three of their group stage games. That is not too far out of the question if they fail to qualify for this cycle and their star players continue to be banned.

The other reason why MLS fans should care about the creation of the European Super League is that it sets a terrible precedent for global soccer. 12 teams, and more specifically, 12 owners, made a decision on their own to change the structure of soccer as we know it. Regardless of your feelings on the new league, the fact that 12 individuals can drastically change a global sport is frightening. Supporters groups across Europe, including from the teams in the new league, have condemned the move. It is sad that the opinion of the fans have been so blatantly ignored. Soccer is a game for the people, and its very existence is due to intense cultural entrenchment. Moves that go against the wishes of fans is not how the sport should be governed.

The reason why these owners made the move is so they can get more money. It is not far-fetched to think that MLS owners could try something similar in hopes of getting the same result. The difference at the MLS level is that the league cannot survive if such a move occurred. If the LA teams, Seattle, Atlanta, etc. branched off and made their own league, everyone else would go under. That means that all of our teams that we hold so dear to our hearts would be gone in an instant, casualties to the greed of a few. Several of the 12 Super League teams have American owners, some have academies in the US, and one even owns an MLS team. American soccer fans should not think this is some isolated European problem because we are only a few steps removed from the problem.

So what happens if this new league does not actually come to fruition? I for one do not think it will because fans and players will likely boycott. However, the point remains that 12 selfish people came so close to radically altering a global sport, and had the power to do so if they decided to go through with it. While this Super League might not pan out, we might not be as lucky with the next one. I understand the desire to break from FIFA and UEFA because soccer's governing bodies are as corrupt as they come, but the fans should run this sport, not the owners. Fans deserve to have their teams, regardless of how big or small.


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