It showed in the eyes of his players. In the excitement of his coach. It was the first time. The only one, also, in which Granada CF stepped on one of the great cathedrals of world football, Old Trafford, to measure their forces against the giant Manchester United in the quarterfinals of the Europa League. A moment of pride for the club and the fans; players with Grenadian DNA against global stars. The scene may never repeat itself. The reward for an epic Granada that signed its best league campaign is history.
The Super League promoted by 12 major European clubs puts in check the illusion of the most modest entities and fans from all over the world to see matches of this level.
The passion of 3,000 Málaga CF fans on their trip to Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund to escort their team to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2013 will also go down in history and into oblivion. Or the local effort Villarreal for looking unapologetically at London in that 2006 semi-final between the Yellow Submarine and Arsenal.
Fans of Granada, Villarreal CF or Málaga think that the Superliga buries this illusion.
Despite the defeat, the Granada CF players enjoyed their first time at Old Trafford, Manchester United's home ground.
In the image, the extreme Darwin Machís, from the Nasrid group, together with Alex Tuanzebe.
Those historical moments and unforgettable experiences are part of the memory and collective consciousness of Spanish football. All LaLiga fans, from any corner of Spain (and the world) and from any team, have vibrated with the deeds of these clubs. The hallmarks of Granada, Villareal or Malaga, or Valencia CF and RC Deportivo, or many others, have traveled throughout Europe as a great pillar of the Spain brand and football has served as a world showcase for their cities.
Endless voices from football, politics, institutions and society in general see in the new Super League a wound to the epic of sport and its founding values. Much of the football community (and the non-football community) shows their rejection of this change. A model that can turn the great European nights, the duels between titans, into a simple routine. A routine that can destroy the television rights of domestic competitions (more European games and the lack of reward for the best classified in the national leagues would plummet its value) and that can affect the development of football from its most basic levels. Many entities and their followers are already wondering: “Where will the new stars come from? Could football cease to exist as we know it? Does the opinion of the fans matter?
Villarreal CF footballer Juan Román Riquelme (in the photo with Cesc Fábregas and Alexander Hleb) was one of the great protagonists of the Champions semi-finals that faced the 'groguets' against Arsenal in 2006. Getty
The Spanish Government has shown its support for LaLiga;
the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, sees it as a “threat to solidarity and sporting merit”;
the legendary Manchester United coach, Alex Ferguson, thinks that "talking about the Super League is to depart from 70 years of European football", and the last Champions of the Champions, Bayern Munich, defends "a more supportive way of working."
The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has also positioned himself against the Superliga.
Question of State
The announcement made so much noise that European politicians and governments decided to position themselves.
The vice president of the European Commission responsible for Culture and Education, Margaritis Schinas, has criticized the initiative, considering that it goes against the diversity and inclusion that the European Union historically promotes.
"It cannot be reserved for some rich and powerful clubs," he wrote on his official Twitter profile.
French President Emmanuel Macron supported his country's clubs that, for the moment at least, did not join the 'new' competition.
The project, according to Macron in a statement, "threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merits", and the French State will act to protect the integrity of federal competitions, at national and European level.
But it has been the voice of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport of the British government, Oliver Dowden, one of the most forceful when rejecting the project in which six Premier League clubs have embarked. He affirms that "football is not a business, but defines the communities throughout the country", that this project "puts wealth before sporting merits", and warns of "the loss of national heritage", the end of the “feeling of belonging” or the lack of “dialogue between the clubs and their own fans.” Also the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has taken a position against the new competition and has warned that he will do everything possible to block the participation of these teams.
The Minister of Culture and Sports, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, maintains: “Our concern is that LaLiga does not devalue, that there is an agreement and not a train crash that is not good for football, and that this does not affect the national team. Spanish". In addition, LaLiga is much more than football. It also supports Spanish sport in general through the Viana Pact signed with the Government and the RFEF in April 2020. With this agreement, the organization led by Javier Tebas has contributed more than 126 million euros to organize the return of the matches after the first confinement and to rescue other federated sports.
An aspect of maximum concern for LaLiga, which described the Super League as "secessionist and elitist", is the loss of value of its television rights and, therefore, of the income of the clubs (especially the most modest ones). LaLiga sees in this project a threat to the work carried out in recent years and a halt to the great global take-off of Spanish football and the future development of the competition.
But it has not been the only sports organization against this new format. Christian Seifert, CEO of the Bundesliga, German elite football, has told his country's ZDF: "The economic interests of a few leading clubs from England, Italy, and Spain must not lead to the suppression of the established structures. in all European football ... ". Along the same lines, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have not joined the Super League.
UEFA itself has launched a statement together with the English Football Federation and the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga, and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and the Lega Serie A in which they affirm that they will strive to “stop this false project, a project that is based on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever”.
Check the little ones
Granada CF has joined the unanimous rejection of the majority of Spanish teams to the announcement of a competition that, in its opinion, “will mean an even greater differentiation from the clubs with more experience and resources and, in turn, will deprive the others institutions with less developed structures to reach the elite ”.
The announcement of last Sunday not only threatens to truncate the dream of many clubs to aspire to reach new goals on the green but also to deprive them of the means to do so, by endangering the centralized negotiation system of television rights. A measure promoted by LaLiga and approved by the Spanish Government in 2015, which has triggered the income for tenants in the middle and lower part of the table such as the Nasrid, who went from pocketing 7.4 million euros from televisions in the 2018/2019 season, when it was in the silver category, to receive 56.4 in the 2020/2021 academic year, thanks to its European classification. About eight times more.
Other teams that have participated in continental tournaments such as Sevilla FC, Real Sociedad or Villarreal CF have also publicly positioned themselves against the Superliga, considering it a “selfish project” and that “will undermine the appeal of the whole game”.
An opposition shared with teams that only compete in LaLiga Santander, such as CA Osasuna, whose president, Luis Sabalza, reflected that "if football is the king of sports, it is because it is precisely the sport of the people, not the sport of rich clubs" .
Even some like CD Leganés, from LaLiga SmartBank, have used irony to distance themselves from the initiative of the 12 clubs.
“CD Leganés refuses to participate in the Super League.
Tomorrow we have a very important game # LeganésPonferradina Thank you ”, they published this Sunday on their Twitter account.
In this sense, the Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, who now directs Leeds in the Premier League and who passed through Athletic Club, with whom he played a Europa League final, reflects: "What gives health to the competition is the possibility of development of the weak, not excess growth of the strong. But the logic that prevails in the world, and football is not outside of that, is that the powerful are richer at the cost of the weak being poorer ”.
"This league is anything but super"
Sadness and disappointment is the majority sentiment among the footballers who decided to pronounce on the Super League.
Among names like Pepe Reina or Mesut Özil, perhaps the most prominent and forceful opinion was that of a former Athletic Club and Real Zaragoza, Ander Herrera: “I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest.
If this league advances, those dreams are over, "he wrote on social media.
That nostalgia for the past also appeared in the reactions of already retired footballers.
Luis Figo, current UEFA adviser and former European champion with Real Madrid, said: "This league is anything but super."
A complaint to which other old acquaintances of Spanish football such as Antonio Cassano or Gary Neville joined.
Judging by the newspaper library, the new project does not even convince some athletes who belong to the driving teams of the new format.
“The gap between big and small clubs will widen even more.
Not always everything has to be more, faster, more and more money, "Real Madrid player Toni Kroos recently commented in a podcast in German.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin on Monday extended the threat of exclusion to footballers who are part of founding clubs of the so-called Superliga.
"They will not be able to represent their national teams in any match."
For its part, the FIFPro union, which defends the rights of nearly 65,000 professionals, ruled in a statement that the new scenario may cause "irreparable damage."
And the fans?
The great European nights could not have existed were it not for them.
The fans of the biggest teams in Europe that have been filling the temples of football year after year until the pandemic.
One of the Anfield funds,
, where one of the most famous fans in the world is located in each game, has flatly rejected this new format.
The fans have decided to remove all the banners from that part of the stadium.
This Monday morning, some fans have approached the stadium to hang two banners against the Super League.
“We are ashamed of you.
RIP Liverpool 1892-2021 ″.
In Spain, the group Aficiones Unidas has also protested on its Twitter account against the initiative with one of the clearest messages: “United with European football against the cynical, unsupportive and illegitimate project of the Super League.
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