Football is facing the hard choice of preserving the status quo or embracing a new power structure with potentially the creation of a very different governing body. Of course, both of the presented options are bad: rooted in greed and control, with a bias for the big ventures. But let’s take a look at what’s the lesser evil.
You might think that this is about European football, but at the core of this is a battle between western institutions and eastern ones. FIFA/UEFA have seen their corruption developed in the direction of Russian oligarchs/politicians (look up Gazprom), and the Middle East soft power game.
The FIFA/UEFA collaboration with developing football in Russia and giving them a World Cup to boot, has been replicated in much higher stakes with doing the exact same with Qatar.
The Qatar National Bank injected money into Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) via several schemes, and FIFA/UEFA were complicit in normalizing it every step of the way. The “investigations” into inflated sponsorship deals with essentially the same shareholders at the giving/receiving end magically didn’t produce any result.
Thanks to this, Qatar has been able to invest over $1.17 Billion dollars into PSG since 2011 (and have yet to win a Champions League!), all as a market/image development strategy leading to next year’s Qatar World Cup.
The Super League founders know this, and they knew that this upcoming player transfer market will be the most important one for PSG, as they have so much riding on image rights for next year. Evidence of this is PSG's desperate efforts to retain top talent that will be relevant in the World Cup competition next year, like offering Neymar a plane and participation in their hotels business.
If Neymar stays a "PSG brand", he can go on to do a great job with Brazil in the 2022 World Cup, and the associated brands will reap the rewards for the next 4 years. The FIFA/UEFA block threatening to get the Super League founders out of tournaments like the World Cup is exactly what the powerful clubs want, as it effectively destroys those tournaments, designed to make us all consume those lifestyle brands. It generates more value for the founding members of the Super League.
What is the added value for the assets tied to Neymar and PSG, if the next World Cup does not feature the top talent from the best 12 teams in Europe?
The president of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, controls not just that club but also the TV network BeIN Sports, and UEFA thought it was great for him to be elected to the Executive Committee. This signals a growing power that is impossible to stop. On the other hand, the Super League’s first president, Florentino Pérez, is known for turning Real Madrid from a sports association with free elections to a corporation where it is really difficult to have change at the top.
As if we did not have enough reasons to hate Real Madrid, disgraceful-General Franco’s team, with most of its wealth covered in blood and shady deals. It makes the SuperLeague project hard to accept. Placing Florentino Pérez at the core of the new era cannot possibly be a great thing for a new competition, let alone an alternative governing body for football. But consider the human cost of staying the course: why do you think Qatar wants soft power?
The FIFA-sanctioned economic development around the World Cup tries to make Qatar a tourist destination, forever present in the mind of global fans, with revenues to make up for the dwindling petrol-based market.
A dictator’s dreamland, Qatar has an awful human rights record, and a history of rampant torture and abuse. It includes setting people up in labor camps separate from society and confiscating their passports upon arrival. Modern-day slavery building the stadiums and facilities for next year's World Cup.
Yes, the Super League is a billionaires’ club made possible by US-based investment banks. But it is also increasing revenues for its members, depending on the figures you trust, between double or quadruple what they earn with FIFA/UEFA.
Yes, the Super League has been so far a wonky attempt at changing the power structure of world football, and they completely forgot to design a seeder system that protects and stimulates development for amateur/small clubs.
But think of the human cost of staying with what we know. A market always tilted in favor of whomever needs to get the ball rolling to hide away their crimes against humanity, and develop a lifestyle brand to distract us.
Love it or hate it, the increased revenues of the Super League are a much better starting point to be inclusive, than the FIFA/UEFA-sanctioned labor camps that make you feel cozy and warm over a familiar-trophy and a charming opening song.
The worst part? This is all about business, after all, so PSG can still join the Super League and bet all their money on gaining influence there. On April 18th, the 12 founding members gave PSG a 14-day period to accept a proposal to join them.
It remains to be seen if the Super League founders will be able to keep participating in their countries' national leagues, sanctioned by FIFA. Since those founding teams now realize the prospect of newfound wealth, it is likely that the national leagues will also want to defect from FIFA and into a new governing body.
The result of all this could well be a truce where things balance out and football carries along as usual, but we shall never overlook the dangerous practice of normalizing crimes against humanity, let alone cheer for it.