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"It's not a sport": Pep slams the ESL

"It's not a sport": Man City boss Guardiola issues heartfelt criticism of the European Super League

April 20, 2021 By Ali M.
The Cityzens boss did not hold back his criticism of the newly-announced breakaway league despite his employers being one of the 12 founding clubs.

The European Super League remains at the forefront of the football headlines, with 12 of the continent's biggest clubs announcing their decision to form a breakaway midweek competition to rival the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Man City, Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham were declared as the 12 founding clubs, with an additional three teams set to join this list. Being a member of the founders list brings several perks, one being a guaranteed presence in this elite competition regardless of a team's league finish, unlike the UEFA Champions League.

This aspect of the newly-announced competition has sparked the biggest outrage, with fans, pundits, and football commentators slamming it an elitist attempt to eject meritocracy out of the beautiful game.

Florentino Perez, the Glazer family who own Man United, Liverpool owner John W. Henry, and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli are said to be the leading figures behind the ESL. However, none have faced the media to respond to the widespread backlash.

Instead, Jurgen Klopp faced questions before and after the Reds' 1-1 draw with Leeds, with Pep Guardiola now weighing in with his thoughts. The highly-praised Spanish tactician spoke ahead of Wednesday's clash with Aston Villa and while the former Barcelona echoed trust in Man City's leadership, similar to Klopp, Pep issued a candid and heartfelt criticism of the somewhat closed format.

A total of 20 teams are expected to participate, with only five spots being made available via league performances – the remaining 15 slots will be reserved for the founders regardless of their league finish. Guardiola slammed this attempt to divorce success from effort as anti-sport.

"I can give my opinion of what I know today but I do not know any more - that is the reality," the Cityzens boss stated, as per Sky Sports.

"It is not a sport where the relation between effort and success does not exist. It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed, it is not a sport where it doesn't matter when you lose.

"But at the moment it is only a statement, and no more than that.

"I would love the president of this committee to explain to the whole world why they took the decision.

"I don't know why these specific teams have been selected and going to play this competition.

"I have said many times, I want the best and strongest competition possible, especially the Premier League

"And it's not fair if one team fights to make it to the top and then cannot qualify because success is just guaranteed for a few clubs."

Pep also went on to question the selection criteria for the founding clubs, asking why Ajax, the four-time winners of the UEFA Champions League, were omitted. The Spaniard's honesty was once again on show as he called for the presidents of the clubs behind this league to face the camera and answer the questions, rather than managers who were kept in the dark during the decision process.

"No one has given any more details [to me] about what is going to happen or what is going to be created," Guardiola stated.

"Honestly we (the managers) are not the right people to ask about it because only the president of this committee can talk more clearly about the idea for the future of football.

"That is why it is a little uncomfortable for us (the managers). We don't have all the information. Once we have all the information, I can give my opinion."

The issue of the European Super League will likely dominate the headlines, with many predicting a legal battle to ensue. With UEFA and the involved domestic leagues – the EPL, La Liga, and Serie A – standing in objection, it could be a while before a conclusion is reached.

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