One of the biggest stories of the past week has been a European Super League, the formation of which has been put back on the table by Liverpool and Manchester United following resistance to their Project Big Picture that proposed radical reforms to the Premier League and English football as a whole.
Amongst the key elements of the latest round of super league fear-mongering was the supposed backing of FIFA, who were said to be intimately involved in planning for the closed breakaway European league. However, for their part FIFA insist they aren’t interested.
“As FIFA president, I’m interested in the Club World Cup, not a super league,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino told Aargauer Zeitung this week. “For me, it’s not about Bayern Munich against Liverpool, but Bayern Munich against Boca Juniors.
“Liverpool have 180 million fans around the world. Flamengo have 40 million fans and 39 million of them are in Brazil. For Liverpool it’s maybe five million fans in England and 175 million around the world. So I want clubs from outside Europe to have that global appeal in the future. That’s my vision.”
Infantino’s vision of an expanded Club World Cup was set to get its debut in 2021 with 24 teams—including eight from Europe—contesting for the trophy in China, but it has currently postponed due to coronavius, with dates as late as 2023 possible for its rescheduling.
As for the European Super League, for all intents and purposes the plan leaked to Sky and other English media outlets earlier this week is the one that has previously been pushed by Florentino Perez and Real Madrid as well as other major sides in Spain and Italy.
And when it comes to the formation of that kind of a European league, what’s stopped it from happening so far has never been FIFA’s involvement or non-involvement. Rather, it’s been a resistance by the big English clubs to commit given the strength of the Premier League and the damage to existing revenue streams such a European league might do.
If such a European Super League was formed, even abandoning the FA Cup and contracting the Premier League to 18 teams would mean a season with more than 70 games, a number that is simply unfeasible when internationals are added to the mix given top teams currently play 55-60 games in all competitions.
That means that for Liverpool and United to actually join with the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus in forming such a league would require them to stop competing in England in anything like the form they currently do.
So the question, as before, is less about specifics of Super League financing or potential FIFA involvement and about more whether Liverpool and United might actually be willing to follow through on their threat and throw their lot in with those big continental sides if they don’t get their way on Project Big Picture.