Football: UEFA, Prince William lead backlash against proposed European Super League

Prince William has taken the extraordinary step of condemning plans for a breakaway Super League, expressing his concern at the damage it would do to football in Europe.

"Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community - from the top level to the grassroots - and the values of competition and fairness at its core," says the Football Association president-designate on his official royal Twitter account.

"I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love."

European soccer governing body UEFA has also led a backlash, saying associated players and clubs could be banned from its competitions - including three of this season's Champions League semi-finalists.

Addressing an emergency meeting the day after 12 of Europe's top clubs announced the new league, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has described the Super League plan as a "spit in the face" of all football lovers.

"As soon as possible, they [the clubs] and the players have to be banned from all our competitions," he adds.

Three of the 12 clubs in the new league - Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea - could be withdrawn from this season's Champions League semis, UEFA executive committee member Jesper Moller has told Danish broadcaster DR.

"The clubs must go, I expect that to happen on Friday," says Moller, who is the head of the Danish FA. "Then we have to find out how to finish [this season's] Champions League tournament." 

The renegade clubs - six from the English Premier League, plus three each from Spain and Italy - will be guaranteed places in the new competition, contrasting the Champions League, which requires teams to qualify through their domestic leagues.

US investment bank JP Morgan is financing the new league, providing a 3.5 billion euro (NZ$4.875 billion) grant for the founding clubs to spend on infrastructure and recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain will do everything possible to block the league and is examining options to penalise the six English teams that have signed up, sports minister Oliver Dowden says.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been quick to object to the plans and Dowden says the government would seek to block the project, if football authorities could not.

"If they can't act, we will," he has told parliament. "We will put everything on the table to prevent this from happening."


The UEFA meeting was originally scheduled to confirm plans to expand the Champions League from 32 to 36 teams and create more group-stage games before the knockout rounds, a move designed to appease the top clubs.

Ceferin says the new format would start from the 2024/25 season, but it has been overshadowed by the Super League announcement. He also stresses that UEFA distributes close to 90 percent of its revenue back to all levels of the game.

Fans hold up a protest banner against Liverpool FC and the European Super League outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool.
Fans hold up a protest banner against Liverpool FC and the European Super League outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool. Photo credit: Getty

"Super League is only about money, money of the dozen - I don't want to call them dirty dozen - but UEFA is about developing football."

While guaranteed spots in the Super League go against long-standing tradition in European football, the founding clubs argue it will create a more sustainable financial model.

"The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model," the clubs say.

In the past, breakaway threats have led to compromises between UEFA and the big Champions League clubs over the format and revenue distribution.


Ex-Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan midfielder Luis Figo - whose former clubs have all signed up to the Super League - is equally scathing.

"This so called 'Superleague' is anything but 'super'," the Portuguese says.

"This greedy and callous move would spell disaster for our grassroots, for women's football and the wider football community, only to serve self-interested owners, who stopped caring about their fans long ago, and complete disregard for sporting merit," he tweets. "Tragic."

Zenit St Petersburg's former Liverpool defender Lovren and Fenerbahce's ex-Arsenal and Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil also criticise the idea.

"Football will be, in the near future, on a brink of complete collapse," the Croatia defender tweets. "Nobody is thinking about the bigger picture, only the financial side." 

"I still believe we can solve this unpleasant situation."