12 European Soccer Clubs, Backed By JPMorgan Chase, Break From UEFA To Form Rival League

In what could arguably qualify as the 21st-century equivalent as the shot heard around the world, 12 of the largest soccer clubs in Europe, with financial sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, have defected from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to create the Super League, a rival for both the allegiance of the continent’s soccer fans and for the lucrative corporate sponsorships that back the sport.

What Happened: The new league was formed by six English teams (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United PLC MANU and Tottenham), three Italian teams (A.C. Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus) and three Spanish teams (Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid). Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid, is the chairman of the new league.

In a press statement, the league’s organizers promised that “a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.” A corresponding women’s league will be planned after the men’s league is up and running, the statement added.

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Who's Paying For It: JPMorgan Chase is providing grant funding to help kickstart the league's operations. The Associated Press is reporting the 15 founding Super League members will each receive at least $4.2 billion in initial infrastructure grants, with the money divided among four tiers of clubs, with the top six each getting $420 million.

Super League organizers are planning to generate $4.86 billion annually from broadcasters covering their games. The UEFA, in comparison, has generated $3.9 billion for each of the past three seasons in the broadcast rights from its Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup games.

Then there is the question of whether the Super League can attract super-sized marketing deals from the world's major companies. The corporate sponsors of UEFA’s multiple tournaments and endeavors reads like a Who’s Who of multinational monoliths, with the likes of Banco Santander SA SAN, Coca-Cola Co KO, Expedia Group Inc EXPE, FedEx Corporation FDX, Gazprom PAO OGZPY, Heineken N.V. HEINY, Mastercard Inc MA, Nike Inc NKE, Nissan Motor Company NSANY, Visa V and Volkswagen VWAGY adding their brand names and money to the games.

What Else Is Happening: The Super League has not attracted corporate sponsorship commitments yet, but it has attracted the anger of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who told a press conference earlier today that his government is “going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn't go ahead in the way that it's currently being proposed.”

French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron also chimed in his disapproval, saying this action “threatened the principle of sporting merit” while praising French soccer clubs for not being part of the Super League.

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Reuters reported that UEFA held an emergency meeting today to discuss the impact that the Super League could have on its operations, particularly the UEFA Champions League competition. As of this writing, UEFA did not issue any statement related to the day’s discussions.

Over the years there has been talk of teams threatening to break away from UEFA to form rival leagues, but this marks the first time a threat became reality. UEFA has raised the possibility of legal action against the founding Super League clubs, warning they would be banned from participating in national competitions including England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.

FIFA, the sport’s world governing organization, issued a warning in January that it would not recognize a breakaway league and would ban any players in such a league from participating in the World Cup.

However, FIFA reacted to the news of the Super League with a more holistic tone, citing its "disapproval" of a "closed European breakaway league" without raising the specter of sanctions.

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(Photo by Comfreak / Pixabay)


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