Updated Apr 19, 2021 - Sports

Big European soccer teams announce breakaway league

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield on April 14, 2021 in Liverpool, England.
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) after striking the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Liverpool F.C. and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, England, last Wednesday. Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

12 of world soccer's biggest and richest clubs announced Sunday they've formed a breakaway European "Super League" — with clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona Real Madrid, Juventus and A.C. Milan among those to sign up.

Why it matters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is among those to express concern at the move — which marks a massive overhaul of the sport's structure and finances. It effectively ends the decades-old UEFA Champions League's run as the top European soccer tournament.

  • Johnson tweeted that it would be "very damaging" for soccer and he supported action being taken against the clubs, warning it "would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country."

Details: The breakaway league is due to start in August and so far consists of six clubs from England, three from Spain and three from Italy, namely:

  • Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Atlético de Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus.
  • "It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable," per a joint statement from the clubs.

Of note: Spanish League president Javier Tebas issued a scathing Twitter comment as he shared a joint statement from European soccer's governing bodies condemning the move:

  • France's President Emmanuel Macron praised French clubs for not taking part in a "football super league project threatening the principle of sporting merit."

What they're saying: "The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model," according to the breakaway clubs' statement.

  • "The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.
"In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions. The Founding Clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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