European Super League collapse: AC Milan, Inter Milan, Atlético Madrid follow Premier League clubs' withdrawal

“I am still convinced of the beauty of this project, of the value it would have created for the pyramid, of creating the best competition in the world,” Agnelli told Reuters, “but obviously no. I don’t believe the project still running now. “

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In a statement, the Super League said: “Given the current circumstances, we will reconsider the most appropriate steps to redesign the project.”

It was a quick and amazing turnaround after Sunday’s announcement rocked the world’s most popular sport. The international governing body of sport, FIFA, threatened to ban players from these clubs from playing for their national teams at the World Cup. It also resulted in the conviction of players and fans.

Manchester City was the first in England to retreat, followed by Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – known as the Premier League’s Big Six.

Arsenal said they “made a mistake”. Daniel Levy, chairman of North London club-mate Tottenham, said the club regretted the “fear and excitement” caused by the proposal.

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United said it had “listened carefully” to the dissent but on a note that issues that led to the creation of the Super League still need to be addressed, the club said, “We continue to seek to be with others throughout Football community work together to achieve sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges of the game. “

Chelsea said: “These plans would not be in the best interests of the club, our fans or the wider football community.”

Hours before Chelsea’s Premier League game in London on Tuesday, hundreds of fans took to the streets outside Stamford Bridge to protest the involvement of the Blues.

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Petr Cech, a former Chelsea goalkeeper and current technical advisor, asked the crowd to allow the team buses to enter the grounds. But when rumors of Chelsea’s withdrawal began to spread, fans started chanting, “We saved football!” The protests, which began on Monday, continued in other European cities outside of dormant stadiums.

Aleksander Ceferin, President of UEFA, the European Football Association, said in a statement: “It is your turn again and I know that you have a lot to offer not only to our competitions but to the European game as a whole. The most important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity we enjoyed the game before and move forward together. “

Liverpool players spoke out against the plan before their side withdrew. Jordan Henderson said on behalf of his teammates, “We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen. … Our commitment to this football club and its supporters is absolute and unconditional. “

The football association that oversees football in England said in a statement that the Super League was “a proposal that could inherently have shared our game; but united us all. “

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The proposal was deeply unpopular in the UK and fan groups from all six English clubs involved denounced it. A YouGov poll published on Monday found that 79 percent of those who follow the sport are against the new league.

The Super League clubs had planned to continue competing in their respective national leagues while skipping the Champions League in favor of a separate tournament. “The existing system is not working,” said the Super League.

The 66-year-old Champions League gathers teams from European countries and uses a nine-month competition that overlaps with national racetracks to determine the best team on the continent. The annual finale draws a global television audience of around half a billion, four times more than the Super Bowl.

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An exit from the Champions League by titans like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United threatened not only to reduce the popularity of the competition, but also to jeopardize lucrative contracts. It would also shift the economy of football more in favor of the big clubs through global TV rights and sponsorship.

The Super League would have established permanent membership for the 12 clubs mentioned and three other clubs – the opposite of the European football model of only rewarding those teams who have performed well in their domestic leagues with the opportunity to achieve continental fame.

The notion of automatic participation, dubbed the “closed league”, has resulted in a significant setback. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who led Barcelona to two Champions League titles, said football is “not a sport where success is already guaranteed or a sport where it doesn’t matter where you lose . “

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The Super League said it invited five more clubs annually, 20 total, although details were never disclosed. The tournament was supposed to start in August.

All founding teams came from the Premier League, the Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A. The most popular teams from the other major European leagues – Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga and Paris Saint-Germain in the French Ligue 1 – declined to join joining the casting doubt whether the plan would move forward.

The breakaway clubs have grumbled about the Champions League business environment for years, claiming that they are the ones driving global audience and sponsorship, not the smaller clubs, and that they should reap bigger rewards.

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In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, these clubs said their bottom line was badly damaged by schedule disruptions and spectator-free stadiums.

Three of the six English clubs that wanted to split belong to Americans with ties to US leagues that operate in closed systems: Manchester United (the Glazer family, which owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Liverpool (Fenway Sports Group / Boston Red Sox); and Arsenal (Stan Kroenke, who owns the Los Angeles Rams and several other franchises). JPMorgan Chase, the US banking giant, has pledged more than $ 4 billion to fund the Super League.

Last Tuesday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino warned the 12 breakaway clubs that they “can’t be half in and half out”, pointing out that they are doing business as usual in their home countries.

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UEFA debated whether three clubs (Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid) should be excluded from the 2020-21 Champions League semi-finals, which starts next week.

Trying to defend the breakaway plan, Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez, the leader of the Super League, said weekly matches between the best clubs in the world were “the greatest show in the world;” There is nothing like it. “

It’s unclear whether teams withdrawing from the Super League would face legal ramifications after the plan was signed.

Karla Adam in London and Matt Bonesteel and Cindy Boren in Washington contributed to this report.