"We have created the [European] Super League to save football," that was the defiant message from Real Madrid supremo Florentino Perez in light of the backlash from football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA.
On Sunday, 12 clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Juventus, AC Milan, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur – joined the ESL as its founding members while electing Perez as its first chairman.
The criticism of the new league poured in from all over the football community. It was not only UEFA and FIFA that condemned the new idea but also domestic governing bodies like the Premier League and La Liga. There was also major furor from fans across the world with many claiming that the new league will kill football and what it stands for – open competition and sporting merit.
Perez made it clear that the main objective of the new Super League is to ensure the long-term financial future of the game. He believes the revenue generated by the Champions League in the current climate – owing to the ongoing pandemic – will not be enough for clubs to survive.
"No one has interest in the Champions League until the quarter-finals. What generates the most interest? Let the greats play. We're doing our best for the sport. The Champions League has lost its attraction, we have created the Super League to save football. We have to change something to make this sport more attractive at a global level. That is what we did with Bernabeu," Perez told Spanish television program El Chiringuito, as transcribed by SB Nation.
"The television rights are what make us money. That money is for everyone. If those at the top have money, it goes to everyone because we buy players from those other clubs and we can be in solidarity."
UEFA have passed a new agreement to make reforms to both the Champions League and Europa League in the coming seasons, but it will come into effect only in 2024. Perez is certain that many clubs will "be dead" by the time the new reforms come into place.
"UEFA has prepared the new format of UCL for 2024. In 2024, we will be dead. We're not UEFA's property, they can't govern us. UEFA's monopoly is over, a new era is coming," he added.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin made it clear that any club participating in the breakout league will be banned from their respective domestic leagues, while also threatening to kick them out of the Champions League and Europa League competitions.
Apart from threatening the clubs, the head of UEFA also suggested that players participating in the ESL will not be allowed to represent their countries in the upcoming European championships and the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and beyond.
However, Perez has assured every player that UEFA does not have the power to stop them from representing their national teams, while he was also certain that there is no way the governing body will ban Real from the Champions League this season.
"Players excluded from International matches or tournaments? That's not going to happen. I want to assure every football player out there, they cannot stop you from playing with your National team. Threats from UEFA president? (Smirks) So be it. Real Madrid will not be banned from the Champions League. I guarantee it 100%, no one can take us out of the Champions League," Perez said.
The European Super League committee is expected to sit down with UEFA and FIFA to reach a compromise in the coming days. However, Perez has made it clear that they will not back down in the face of opposition from the two governing bodies.
"We will do all of our efforts to try to reach a compromise with FIFA or UEFA. If we can't reach an agreement, we won't back down. We will continue working even if it takes more time. We will be able to watch the best games in world football two days of the week. Without compromising the matches of the respective leagues on the weekend."