Breakaway European Soccer League Starts Legal Action to Defend Itself

That amount is more than four times what the winner of European soccer’s marquee tournament, the Champions League, took home in 2020. In the letter, the founders of the Super League say they do not wish to replace the Champions League but to create a tournament that would run alongside it.

The damage to the prestige and value of the Champions League, though, would be immediate and long lasting, turning what has for decades been club soccer’s elite competition into a secondary event, one that is unlikely to retain anywhere near its current commercial appeal. UEFA ratified the biggest changes to that tournament since 1992 at a meeting of its executive board on Monday.

Nasser al-Khelaifi, the chairman of the French champions Paris Saint-Germain, was among the officials who voted for the changes. He so far has resisted efforts to lure P.S.G., a club stocked with some of the world’s best players, to the new league. Teams in Germany, including last season’s Champions League winner, Bayern Munich, have also declined to join the new venture.

The substantial changes to the Champions League may now be consigned to irrelevance should the breakaway clubs manage to get their way and take to the field in a competition that they say they hope to begin as soon as this summer.

In the letter, the group said that their urgency stemmed from the huge losses piling up as a result of the coronavirus. The sight of games played in cavernous but empty stadiums has become the norm, and restrictions on public gatherings mean that hundreds of millions of dollars are being lost in gate receipts, while broadcasters have also clawed back vast sums from leagues and competition organizers.

UEFA and other groups opposed to the new competition huddled over the weekend to discuss their legal options and began talks with governments across Europe as well as with the European Union. That led to swift statements of condemnation from figures including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and President Emmanuel Macron of France.

Faced with the possibility of seeing the value of their own events being devalued in the future and the prospect of current broadcast and commercial partners demanding a reduction in the fees they pay, UEFA is considering seeking damages from the 12 clubs that form the breakaway group, and from some of their top officials.

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