The same screenwriter from the popular TV series Downton abbey, which reflected the rigid class structure of Victorian England, understood the power of football at that time to level the differences between aristocrats, bourgeoisie and the working class. Julian Fellowes signed all six episodes of The English Game (The English Game), and was inspired by historical events to tell the explosion of the sport from the moment in which the participation of professional players who charged for their talent was allowed. A game invented by nobles that the town appropriated to make it a national pastime. Each team had a local history and passionate fans.
The managers who launched the European Super League project, in their multimillionaire dream of managing a universal sport with maximum efficiency and the highest profitability, did not understand that globalization unleashes such an uncontrollable popular rage that it ends up causing a Brexit that lead to burning stadiums. And that there is nothing easier for a politician than to be at the head of the demonstration when he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He was caught on the fly by Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, when he publicly questioned the club’s decision on Tuesday: “A sport is not a sport when there is no relationship between effort and reward; when only a few are guaranteed success, who don’t mind losing ”. Despite the fact that reality is stubborn, and football is the business of a few, the magic persists among fans that it is still possible for David to defeat Goliath, and the idea of the Super League has unleashed anger among those who have believed that took away their last dream.
About a thousand Chelsea fans, one of the six English clubs that had joined the project, gathered yesterday at the Stamford Bridge stadium, shortly before the match between their team and Brighton. “Created by the poor, stolen by the rich,” read the text on one of the banners that had led to the rally. Dozens of police officers nervously watched the concentrated rage. They exploded in a shout of joy when they heard the news that the board was beginning to prepare the legal documents to announce their departure from the Super League. And the beer and the chants of victory began to flow – “We have saved football” – when they learned that Manchester City was joining the withdrawal maneuver. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich always claimed that his sporting adventure was not about money. The Chelsea owner was the first to present a white flag when he detected the tide of outrage. One by one, the six English clubs followed suit, with more or less lukewarm statements announcing the withdrawal. Only Arsenal went further in their exercise of humility, and apologized: “It was never our intention to cause so much discomfort (…) After listening in recent days to the broad community that surrounds football, we have decided to withdraw from the Super League. We have made a mistake and we apologize for this, ”said the club’s statement. Tottenham president Daniel Levy – the sole British owner of a group that included three Americans, a Russian and an Emirati – also publicly lamented “the anxiety provoked”. Manchester United vice president Ed Wooward announced his resignation on Tuesday amid protests sparked by the club’s decision to join the project.
David Beckham, the closest thing to royalty in the history of English football, used Instagram to join the popular revolt: “We need football to be for everyone. We need it to be fair and for the competition to be based on merit. If we don’t protect those values, the game we love is in jeopardy, ”he wrote.
Even Prince William, third in line to the British throne, had skipped the required neutrality of the Royal House in worldly affairs to express his outrage. The Duke of Cambridge chairs the English Football Association, is a declared Aston Villa fan and has participated in competitions to support grassroots football and local leagues. “Now more than ever we must protect the entire soccer community, from the highest to the most basic levels, as well as the values and fair play that are at the heart of this competition. I share the fans’ concern over the Super League proposal, given the risk it entails of damaging this game that we love so much, ”Guillermo wrote on his official Twitter account.
Boris Johnson has recovered, thanks to this storm, the political sense that he lost during a year of disastrous management of the pandemic. He immediately met with the directors of the Football Association and the Premier League, but above all with the fan associations, to promise them that he was going to leave his skin to prevent this “cartel” – that’s how he called the group of great rebel clubs – get away with it. It announced a “legislative bomb”, in the form of sanctions, administrative obstacles and withdrawal of public support if the Super League went ahead. And he played with the marked cards, aware that, this time, the leader of the Labor opposition, Keir Starmer, had no alternative but to applaud his decisions and give him his support.
Soccer is no longer an “English game” any more than it is an Argentine, Italian, German, Spanish or Brazilian game. The supposed greed of the big clubs has been universally denounced throughout the week by thousands of fans, players or commentators. In the same way that reasons have been heard for and against a movement that had economic arguments in its defense and more or less understood explanations of the power struggle that the great teams and UEFA have been dragging for years. But England fans have had the pleasure of twisting the “powerful” with more force than anyone and vindicating, for a week, the wonderful game whose current rules were developed on that island 158 years ago.