The European Super League (ESL) is in tatters just over 48 hours after it was launched. Critics have triumphed against the so-called elite European clubs that founded the breakaway league on April 18.
12 clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Juventus, AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur – came together to become the founding members of the ESL.
The announcement was met with criticism from multiple supporter groups in England and all the football governing bodies - both European and domestic. The reaction from Spain, however, was a bit muted with no official statements coming out from either the players of the clubs involved or the official supporter groups.
UEFA threatened to ban all the clubs from their respective domestic leagues while also threatening players about their participation with their national teams. The UK government got involved and were ready to intervene to force the English clubs to withdraw, but in the end the fans' uproar from around the world was enough for at least the English clubs to notice that the league's success was dependent on its supporters.
It all started outside Stamford Bridge where Chelsea fans refused entry to the bus carrying its players for their game against Brighton into the stadium. As the protest was underway, news filtered through that The Blues had decided to withdraw their entry to the European Super League, which elicited chants of "we saved football" from the club's faithful.
The chaos that ensued following news of Chelsea's withdrawal was at times comical with all six English clubs then deciding to pull out of the newly formed league that was expected to change the landscape of the European game.
Manchester City were the first to issue an official statement about their withdrawal. They were soon followed by Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. The statements were consistent in terms of clubs accepting their mistake, with the Gunners being the first to issue a groveling apology to the fans.
The decision to form and announce the European Super League appeared premature, not well thought out and solely taken by the owners of the clubs without any interaction with the players or the day-to-day management of the clubs.
The players showed solidarity by shying away from the new league. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson put out a defiant statement, while Marcus Rashford and Kevin De Bruyne were also against moving away from the existing football pyramid.
At the moment, only the three Spanish clubs and Juventus are yet to announce their departure from the ESL, even AC Milan and Inter Milan are reportedly planning to withdraw their participation. The ESL, however, has released a statement that they are looking to "reshape the project" but in all likelihood according to Italian transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, the Super League idea may be shelved for the for the time being.
In the end, the project that was claimed to be the saviour of football not only incensed the fans but also united members of the football community to fight to maintain sporting history and the spirit of open competition that allows every team a fair chance to climb to the very top.