Shockwaves were felt throughout the football world on Sunday, April 19, when 12 of the most renowned clubs in Europe announced their intention to break away from UEFA competitions and form a “Super League.”
These clubs include: Real Madrid, Manchester United, FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Liverpool, Juventus, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City and Tottenham.
In essence, this league would replace the UEFA Champions League, and it would guarantee these 12 clubs’ participation in the Super League every year. For example, even if these clubs performed poorly in one season, they would still be guaranteed a spot in the league for the next season, as clubs would no longer have to earn their way to a European spot.
To no one’s surprise, football Twitter was irate at the announcement by each of these 12 clubs. Many were surprised to find out that Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich did not accept an invitation from this treasonous organization. Users praised both clubs for their resistance, and commended them for their efforts to “save football.”
If we look toward PSG, it is a club hated by most football fans based on the mere fact that it has bought its way to success. Nevertheless, these negative opinions were thrown out the window on Sunday, and Paris was seen as the antihero.
This is utter nonsense. Let me tell you why.
PSG was taken over by Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) in 2011. QSI is a state-owned shareholding organization founded in 2005. The group’s takeover of the club made PSG one of only two state-owned clubs in the world (with the other being Manchester City). Since 2011, QSI has pumped over €1 billion into the club, which has led to the acquisitions of world-class players such as Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe.
PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi serves as chairman of the organization, while the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, serves as the owner of the club through QSI. al-Thani has the final say on any and all decisions in relation to the club.
Now, why is all of this important? Well, Qatar would never double-cross FIFA, as former FIFA president Sepp Blatter gifted them the right to host the 2022 World Cup. In 2019, British newspaper The Sunday Times reported that Al Jazeera — an international Arabic news channel based in Doha — secretly offered FIFA $400 million for broadcasting rights, just 21 days before FIFA announced that Qatar would hold the 2022 World Cup.
This TV deal between FIFA and Al Jazeera also stated that €100 million would be designated to a FIFA account once Qatar won the World Cup bid in 2010.
As a result, Qatar cannot risk losing their chance to hold the World Cup. Although the ways in which they won the rights to host the tournament are as sketchy as could be, they will still host the tournament in a year’s time.
Make no mistake, if Qatar had no prior agreements made with FIFA, they most certainly would have taken the massive payout and joined the resistance. For now, they’ll have to stay put, but all bets are off after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA is not the only organization they have to remain loyal to. UEFA has protected PSG from sanctions that would have been raised against them for their violation of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. FFP was established to prevent clubs from spending more than they earned in pursuit of their success.
France24, a French state-owned network, reported in 2018 that UEFA knowingly helped PSG cover up their own irregularities for political reasons, under the leadership of Michel Platini and Gianni Infantino.
Moreover, PSG correspondent Jonathan Johnson of ESPN reported in 2018 that UEFA was satisfied with the club’s break-even result from 2015-17; UEFA closed the investigation, and no sanctions were given out. However, this simply did not add up. Tariq Panja of The New York Times reported in 2019 that the acquisitions of Neymar and Mbappe in the summer of 2017 cost the club more than $400 million.
Such an enormous amount of money spent in one summer could not be done in a manner that would allow clubs to balance their spending and revenue, unless they lied about the money they earned from certain sponsorships.
PSG stated that Qatar Tourism Authority, one of their sponsors, brought in more than €100 million. However, when UEFA financial investigator Yves Leterme hired sports marketing company Octagon Worldwide to analyze this evaluation made by the club, they only valued Qatar Tourism Authority at €5 million. Since Paris was cleared of all wrongdoing, one cannot say that they lied about their evaluation. However, the massive difference in evaluations between PSG and Octagon Worldwide definitely raises an eyebrow or two.
Overall, this is meant to show how erroneous it is to claim that PSG isn’t joining the Super League for the good of football. They aren’t joining the Super League because it does not benefit them — they are just waiting. When it does benefit them, they will take their heaps of money and join the dissidents.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Jose Breton / AP Photo, File.