Futsal is not association football (soccer). However, futsal is governed in most countries by that country’s national football association under a mandate given to them by FIFA, and many futsal players also play association football and support football clubs. As a result of this, the futsal community in England and elsewhere is inextricably linked to the football community both structurally and socially. It is therefore right for members of our community to take a view on the recently announced plans for a European Super League (ESL) in which a largely self-appointed “top 20” football clubs across Europe would compete in a separate competition.
One of the four strategic aims of the LNFS England vision is to work towards unification of English futsal into a connected and coherent futsal pyramid and pathway owned and run by its Member Clubs, and catering for players of any age, gender, or background, from elite to non-elite. Almost two thousand years ago Marcus Aurelius wrote: “What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee.” The proposed ESL plans are clearly bad for the hive and we agree with the many governing bodies, national leaders, and supporters’ associations who have spoken out strongly against the ESL:
- “We wish to reiterate that we – UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.” [Joint statement from UEFA, England’s Football Association, the Premier League, the Spanish Football Federation, La Liga the Italian Football Federation, and Serie A].
- “A ‘closed super league model’ … would be strongly opposed by ECA.” [European Club Association].
- “The Premier League condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid. Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European super league would destroy this dream. A European super league will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper. We will work with fans, the FA, EFL, PFA and LMA, as well as other stakeholders, at home and abroad, to defend the integrity and future prospects of English football in the best interests of the game.” [English Premier League].
- “Aspiration and sporting merits are an essential part of any sport and a vital component of the game we love. This proposed move would detract from the strength and joy of domestic football and diminish the game for the vast majority of fans across the continent.” [Professional Footballers’ Association].
- “The motivation behind this so-called superleague is not furthering sporting merit or nurturing the world’s game – it is motivated by nothing but cynical greed.” [Football Supporters’ Association].
- “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action. They would strike at the heart of the domestic game and will concern fans across the country. The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps.” [British Prime Minister].
- “The ‘super league’ proposal leaked today cuts across all the things that make football great. It diminishes competition. It pulls up the drawbridge. It is designed for and by a small elite.” [British Leader of the Opposition].
…and the unanimous condemnation from supporters’ associations of the six English clubs involved in these ESL proposals:
- “[Liverpool’s owners] have ignored fans in their relentless and greedy pursuit of money. Football is ours, not theirs. Our football club is ours not theirs.” [Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly].
- “Football supporters across the world have experienced the ultimate betrayal” [Chelsea Supporters’ Trust].
- “The death of Arsenal as a sporting institution” [Arsenal Supporters’ Trust].
- “Those involved have zero regard for the game’s traditions”. [Manchester City Supporters’ Club].
- “The ESL goes against everything football, and Manchester United, should stand for”. [The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust].
- “The ESL is a concept driven by avarice and self-interest at the expense of the intrinsic values of the game we hold so dear”. [Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust].
Finally, we agree wholeheartedly with the British Culture Minister’s statement that the plans: “could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game. Sustainability, integrity, and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that undermines this is deeply troubling and damaging for football. We have a football pyramid where funds from the globally successful Premier League flow down the leagues and into local communities. I would be bitterly disappointed to see any action that destroys that.”
LNFS England fully shares this vision for sustainable and fair football and futsal pyramids, based on open competition and sporting merit, connected to their local communities, and not operating as a closed shop at the top.