Budapest, Hungary – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is opposed to the creation of a European Super League tournament, his office said on Sunday.
Hungary rejects plans to launch Super League football tournament
“Hungary is convinced that the beauty and the grandeur of the world’s greatest game lie in the fact that it belongs to everyone, and the rich cannot appropriate it for themselves,” the Prime Minister’s press officer wrote in a statement.
Orban, himself known to be a keen football enthusiast, joins several European leaders, including Britain’s Boris Johnson and France’s Emmanuel Macron, in voicing his support to the FIFA and UEFA federations against the controversial plan aimed at creating an alternative European football tournament.
The Hungarian Premier “believes in the unity of sports at a European level, as well as in the principle of solidarity,” the statement further reads.
What is the European Super League?
On Monday, plans to start a new European Super League (ESL) were revealed by twelve of Europe’s biggest and richest football clubs hailing from England (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham), Italy (Inter Milan, Juventus and AC Milan) and Spain (Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid).
According to the proposal, the ESL would be held from August to May each year. It would involve a total of 20 teams split into two groups of ten – including the 12 founding members and three others yet to join who would be permanent and unable to face relegation. The remaining five other teams would compete to qualify each year.
What were the reactions?
Even before its official announcement, the start of the European Super League faced a severe backlash, with both FIFA and UEFA – along with numerous national leagues and federations – strongly opposed to the breakaway tournament.
UEFA, itself working on a new and more diverse 36-team Champions League, warned that it would use all the tools at its disposal to prevent the ESL from taking place, including banning participating clubs from all other domestic, European or international competitions.
Other top European football clubs in Germany (Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund) and France (Paris St Germain) haven’t shown any signs of willing to join the ESL.
Why is it so controversial?
Many football fans and pundits all across Europe slammed the ESL as a “self-serving” enterprise, contesting its claim that the new tournament “will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football.”
According to its critics, the driving force behind the establishment of the ESL is merely to replenish the money vaults of Europe’s main clubs, hit hard by the COVID pandemic, through the creation of a closed-circuit tournament for the European football’s top champions, contrary to “the principles of open competition and sporting merit,” according to the Premier League.
Many also fear that the European Super League would draw audiences away from the Champions League and other top national competitions, including the Premier League in England and the Serie A in Italy – with everything it entails in terms of losses in advertisement, marketing and broadcasting revenues.