Football Belongs to the Fans

After watching "Super League: The War for Football" on Apple TV, something stood out to me. When the Super League was announced, fans in England immediately revolted against the concept of it. While in Italy and in Spain, many fans actually embraced the idea.  However, many fans of Italian and Spanish football who live outside of Europe also revolted against the concept. There are multiple reasons for the cultural differences, and money certainly plays a part in it. The men who were putting together the Super League had crunched a bunch of numbers, but they never actually asked the fans themselves what they wanted. And what they found out was that an overwhelming majority of supporters believe that football belongs to the fans.

The players understand that they play for the fans.

Power, greed, corruption, and most of all money are destroying football. Those who created the Super League epitomized this. You do not need to look any further than the multi-faceted scandals afflicting Juventus right now or the disastrous finances of Barcelona to understand why these men are so desperate to inflict their self-centered plan on football. Their clubs' success was built on unsustainable practices that spiraled out of control with the obsession to win, to gain more power, and obviously, more money.

Notice the fans never factored into any of those plans.

UEFA's former Financial Fair Play (FFP) and newer financial sustainability regulations were created to prevent the financial crises these clubs are having now, but they ignored them. The Super League clubs wanted more of the money from Champions League revenues for themselves, but UEFA divides that money up amongst all of football to develop players from grassroots football on up. Without that investment, those big clubs would never have any players coming up to play for them. They would have no product to sell. This is the shortsightedness of the greed of the Super League masterminds. They would take all of the money now without reinvesting it for their future.

Čeferin is dedicated to a football for the people, Agnelli is simply obsessed with power, money and winning

However, UEFA has not been able to prevent the growing disparity between the bigger clubs, even when they have been willing to enforce their FFP policies. With the obvious corruption in FIFA and UEFA as well, implementation has been inconsistent, and UEFA's reputation is tarnished. There is also a lack of trust from all stakeholders. This lack of trust is bigger in the leagues and clubs who have less money. That is part of the reason for the cultural differences between England and other European leagues.

That is not the only reason, however. The clubs in England listen to their fans. Sometimes, they even respect them. Their supporters groups have an influence at their clubs. This was especially evident when the news of the Super League broke and fans immediately protested. Their clubs, league, and even government listened to them. Despite hooliganism and other problems in football, the clubs know that the money they make comes from the pockets of the fans. The money from TV rights comes from sponsors, because they know that fans are watching their football. The fans matter.

English fans are seen and heard.

The same is not necessarily true in other countries. Take Italy, for example. Ultras have long used their influence at the clubs to promote their own criminal and political agendas. Many of the Ultras are led by criminals, including Milan, whose head of the Curva Sud is currently in jail. Again. Or the head of Inter's Curva Nord, who is currently on house arrest for violating his Daspo (ban from sporting events.) Ultras provide so much more atmosphere in the stadiums through banners, flares, drums, singing and chanting.They also provide racism, violence, and other crimes that damage the image of Serie A. This affects the end product, including TV rights.

Clubs tolerate the fans, but they are also sometimes held hostage by, or even give into their criminal demands. Until recently, however, when owners from outside of Italy have purchased Serie A clubs, they did not respect the fans. This is a major reason why Serie A is unsuccessful. Not unlike the men in the Super League, the Lega Serie A is a bunch of old men arguing and making decisions for football without considering the people they are trying to appeal to. They don't listen to the people who make them money: the fans. Thankfully, unlike the foolhardy owners, the players understand.

These men believed that football ownership was a monarchy.

This disconnect of the owners is a big reason why the fans in Italy supported the Super League. They are used to being left out of the conversation. Fans also do not trust UEFA because their clubs are constantly regulated due to mismanagement. They see UEFA as the problem. Not Serie A, their clubs, or even the perpetual problems such as racism that keep Serie A from thriving like the Premier League. They see the Super League as the answer to catching up financially, but fail to understand that only three of the 20 clubs would even have benefitted from it, creating even more disparity within the league. Fans outside of Italy were not as entrenched in the culture and were better able to see from the outside that it was not a good idea for football.

I, for one, am tired of being gaslighted by these old men in charge of Serie A. I could not wait for the door to close on Berlusconi and Galliani when they left, who not only did not respect Milan fans, but almost had a disdain for those of us who were paying their bills. Contrary to Galliani's beliefs, we did not need to thank Berlusconi for running the club into the ground because of his myriad personal and other business crimes. Every time there is another scandal in Serie A that sets the league back, I am grateful when justice is served. People say that I should not be gleeful that Juventus are being punished, but I am tired of them controlling the narrative of Serie A. I am tired of these men with their greed and corruption ignoring the actual football and us as fans. Serie A will not be successful until they understand that football belongs to the fans.

Milan has been returned to the fans, but is still held hostage by Serie A

I was wary of being owned by a hedge fund, or having our club run by Gazidis, but they understood the most important part of actually making money in football was that football belongs to the fans. Milan's rebirth has been built around giving the club back to the fans. We feel seen and heard. That is why the Premier League is so successful. They listen to the fans. Building a brand involves an understanding. We as fans know that they are asking for our money, but as long as they respect us and we feel heard, we would give our unborn children to the club of our hearts. Or at least our entire paycheck.

The Super League studied a bunch of data from who knows where to come to their misguided conclusions, but they never listened to the fans before their attempted launch. They are so without morals, they would likely be willing to steal unborn children, I think. Certainly, Agnelli very publicly betrayed a close friend in Čeferin. With apparently no remorse, as his interviews in the documentary seem to indicate. If he did not care about his friend, he certainly does not care about the fans. And now he and his entire club are paying the price for his complete lack of ethics or integrity. Well, and all of Serie A, once again. If only he and his Super League co-conspirators could have understood the most basic of rules, they may have even been successful. And that basic rule is that football belongs to the fans.

This post inspired by the music of John Lennon's "Power to the People"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 19
Lazio vs. Milan
Tuesday, January 24, 2023 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Football Belongs to the Fans Football Belongs to the Fans Reviewed by Elaine on 1:38 PM Rating: 5
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