Super League Activism

Published on 24 April 2021 at 16:45

The two day life span of the supposed Super League, was a particularly stressful time for fans of the sport all across the world. The very identity and survival of the sport they loved so dearly seemed to hang in the balance, as new owners from a variety of backgrounds seemed unable to properly understand the more than century long history of the Football League.


Faced with a crisis of unprecedented scale and impact, the fans responded with a heartening degree of determination and opposition. Culminating in the effective scrapping of the project and a return on the part of the majority of the teams involved to their original commitments. 


When it comes to activism, of a political or social nature the majority of movement which is taken in response to such actions is a form of gradual change which eventually leads to a difference being made in that regard. However, there comes certain events which serve to draw groups together and lead to the form of cooperation which allows for truly visible alterations to the way things are done to be carried out.


Often times this can be a tragic event, whether natural or of a more human aspect, yet in this instance at least it provides for one of the few times in human history that greed has provoked such a response.


The proposals made by the big twelve teams, were solely focusing on protecting their own financial interests and ensuring that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the clubs in question would be minimised. This however would come at the expense of all other clubs in the football pyramid and the fans themselves.


Upending decades of tradition and the entire foundation of what it means to host a competition, with actual stakes as the larger teams would be unable to be relegated from the league of their own creation. This also came within a time in which a number of smaller teams are struggling for survical, being forced to furlough players and lay off numerous members of staff.


To say the bigger clubs are out of touch to this reality, would go beyond stating the obvious, as in the instance of Real Madrid and Barcelona who remain unwilling to fully withdraw from the breakaway league proposal, their issues stem from mismanagement and poor handling of financials. This is in conjunction with an unprecedented economic situation, which has exacerbated rather than caused their current dire straits.


Football fans have rarely if ever been truly united, this is of course a defining factor of the sport and has led to some heated and passionate derby games and rivalries. However, at the same time it left the fan base divided and unable to properly resist the changes made to the sport in modern days.


This has been evidenced, by the sheer length of time certain inept reigns in high up positions such as that of Sepp Blatter and in the Irish context John Delaney continued for, despite a track record of disregarding the core ethos of the sport in favour of personal advancement. Also when controversial decisions were made, such as setting the hosts of the previous World Cup as Russia and the upcoming competition in Qatar, two nations which have dubious human rights records to say the least.


With a recent report stating that in the case of Qatar, some 6,500 migrant workers have passed away as a result of the conditions they were subjected to in constructing the neccessary infrastructure for the upcoming event. Maybe it seems harsh to blame fans for failing to pull together and stop such an event, but the current backlash seems likely to prevent any such further wholeheartedly corrupt decision going through again in future.


Yet in the attempt by the largest clubs in Europe to eventually disregard all domestic competitions alongside the Champions League, was a step too far it seems for footballing fans. The outcry on social media and through Gary Neville among others on Sky Sports was of a sufficiently large nature so as to frighten the clubs involved in the early hours of their proposal.


Fans took things a step further, staging mass protests outside of club grounds and tying banners to stadiums, voicing their concerns and outrage as audibly and visibly as they could. This personal touch by the fans seems likely to have put the final nail in the Super League’s coffin.


Then some two days later, the proposals fell apart resulting in the clubs in question and their owners returning hat in hand to the competitions which they had earlier deemed to be insufficient for their needs in a financial sense. This provoked a feeling of euphoria in fans of the Beautiful Game, from almost every corner, as they above all deserved the credit for saving the soul of the sport through their words and through their conduct. Credit which thankfully the media has been quick to attribute to the fans in the main.


A firm belief has since come in to being among fans that further changes will be required, in order to ensure the protection of the sport they deem so vital to their communities and their everday life. Given the tidal change brought about by their conduct in recent days, it seems likely that should a degree of the same cooperation and genuine love for the sport be brought to the fore in future, such changes shall be forthcoming.


Yet the actions of all involved, have also reignited the firm belief in the power of every day activism to make a positive change in the world. In this instance, the gradual reforms required in most instances were set aside, as two days of outright disdain and disregard for the greed of the elites, allowed for the ultimate defeat of a multi billion dollar enterprise.


People are powerful and capable of so much more than they often think they are, but sometimes it takes an event like what has transpired in the past few days to solidify this idea. The future in so many respects remains uncertain, yet there is one genuine certainty which has emerged in the past few days, the power of the people to shake the foundations of established institutions and derive positive change in the process remains.


The example set may inspire many others to take their efforts from the realm of sports, to other areas of genuine concern in what could potentially provide for a massive butterfly effect type situation if the energy created is transferred and maintained allowing for a genuinely positive outcome from what has transpired in the past few days. 

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