European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, is planning for next week’s Champions League semifinals — the largest continental competition for domestic clubs — to go ahead as scheduled despite potential punishment awaiting three of the remaining four teams that have signed on to play in the Super League, per Mark Ogden of ESPN
Spain’s Real Madrid, England’s Chelsea — who play each other in one of the semifinals — and Manchester City were initially a part of the 12 teams who have signed on to join the rebel league that would all but replace the Champions League. Those joining would withdraw from the European Club Association, the body which brings together 246 major clubs across the continent for the Champions League.
To put it in a somewhat more relatable term for the more casual American fan, it’s like the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals, Red Sox, and a handful of other big-market teams announcing that they will compete in their own competition, leaving smaller-market clubs that don’t provide Major League Baseball with nearly the same exposure or revenue options to compete for the World Series.
However, reports on Tuesday — just hours before its clash against Brighton Hove & Albion — indicated that Chelsea is preparing to withdraw from the Super League. Manchester City’s reported withdrawal followed shortly after.
The Super League’s current plan is to have 15 cemented teams and five rotating qualified clubs from around Europe to play each other in mid-week fixtures, having received $5.5 billion in funding from American bank JP Morgan.
Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, Liverpool owner John Henry, and the Manchester United-owning Glazer family are also American.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who called these teams “snakes and liars” while calling labeling them as “disgraceful and self-serving,” threatened to ban these teams from all UEFA competitions, including the Champions League and their respective domestic leagues and competitions. Players participating in the new league would also be barred from representing their country in the European Championships and FIFA World Cup.
Monday also saw a report stating that Danish FA chairman and a member of UEFA’s executive committee, Jesper Moller, indicated that Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester City would be kicked out of the Champions League semifinals with an announcement coming Friday.
Arsenal and Manchester United, who are in the semifinals of the lesser Europa League, also would have been banished.
The newest development relayed by Ogden, though, ensures that a historic Champions League semifinal from an American standpoint will go on as planned.
For the first time in the competition’s 66-year history, two American players will take part with Chelsea midfielder and Hershey, PA native Christian Pulisic facing the competition’s most successful club, Real Madrid, while goalkeeper and Coatesville, PA native Zack Steffen backstops Manchester City against French side and Super League decliner, Paris Saint-Germain.
The first leg of Chelsea, Real Madrid will take place on April 27 (3 p.m. ET) before Manchester City meets PSG on April 28.