As it happened: European Super League threatens to shake up 'beautiful game'

From Matias Grez, Rob Picheta, Ben Church and John Sinnott, CNN

Updated 5:22 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021
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6:09 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Jose Mourinho sacked by Tottenham

Matias Grez

Tottenham Hotspur has confirmed that Jose Mourinho, along with his coaching staff, has been "relieved of his duties."

"Jose and his coaching staff have been with us through some of our most challenging times as a Club," Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said in a statement.

"Jose is a true professional who showed enormous resilience during the pandemic. On a personal level I have enjoyed working with him and regret that things have not worked out as we both had envisaged.

"He will always be welcome here and we should like to thank him and his coaching staff for their contribution."

Former player Ryan Mason, who is just 29 years old, will take first team training, the club said.

Mourinho was appointed in November 2019 after Spurs sacked Mauricio Pochettino, who is now Paris Saint-Germain's coach.

Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, attends a Premier League match against Manchester United on April 11, in London, England.
Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, attends a Premier League match against Manchester United on April 11, in London, England. Clive Rose/Getty Images

6:00 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Borussia Dortmund opposes Super League

From CNN's Matias Grez

On Monday, Borussia Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke confirmed that the club was against the formation of the European Super League.

Instead, he reiterated that the club remained in favor of the new Champions League format, which was scheduled to be approved by UEFA on Monday.

"The members of the board of the European Club Association (ECA) got together for a virtual conference on Sunday evening and confirmed that the board decision of last Friday is still valid," Watzke said in a statement.

"This decision means that the clubs want to implement the planned reform of the UEFA Champions League. It was the clear opinion of the members of the ECA board that the plans to found a Super League were rejected. " 

Watzke added: "Both German clubs that are represented on the ECA Board, FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, represented 100 percent congruent views in all discussions."

UEFA’s Executive Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Monday to vote on plans for an expanded and restructured Champions League competition.

The proposals would see an increase from 32 to 36 teams, as well as an overhaul of the Group Stage into a league table rather than the current groups of four clubs.

Dortmund fans wave flags prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg football match Tottenham Hotspur on March 5, 2019 in Dortmund, western Germany.
Dortmund fans wave flags prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg football match Tottenham Hotspur on March 5, 2019 in Dortmund, western Germany. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

5:53 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Aston Villa chief executive calls Super League a 'grotesque concept'

By John Sinnott

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow arrives at the Premier League offices in London, on March 13, 2020.
Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow arrives at the Premier League offices in London, on March 13, 2020. Luciana Guerra/PA Images/Getty Images

One of football's defining characteristics has always been the idea of relegation and promotion, which is why the reaction to the European Super League has been so negative.

"These proposals do away with sporting merit. It would enable a small number of clubs to be in this competition come what may and, for millions of people in football, that goes against everything the sport means and stands for," Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow told BBC Radio Four on Monday.

"The idea is that the uncertainty that comes with sport, that makes it so compelling, that we all love, is actually damaging to the business model of these huge clubs.

"So the scheme is designed to take away that uncertainty, to give predictability to their businesses so that, if they're badly managed or have a poor year, they're still in the premier tournament. Does that sound like sport or football to you? To me it sounds a grotesque concept."

5:54 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

US investment bank JP Morgan behind new Super League

Aleks Klosok

JP Morgan confirmed to CNN on Monday that it will be financing the proposed new breakaway European Super League.

A spokesman for the company confirmed the news in an email but declined to offer further comment regarding the nature of the deal.

The planned competition would represent the most significant shake-up of elite European football in recent history and is seen as a direct rival to UEFA’s Champions League competition. 

5:54 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Fans lead calls for boycott

By John Sinnott

Over the last year during the pandemic, Europe’s top clubs have had to get used to playing games behind closed doors.

Given some of the outraged fan reaction, one question is whether European Super League games would be boycotted.

On Monday #BoycottEuropeanSuperLeague was trending on Twitter.

5:55 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Premier League says new competition would 'destroy the dream' of football fans

By Kevin Dotson, Brad Lendon and John Sinnott

The European Super League plan also threatens to complicate the 12 clubs’ relationships with their respective domestic leagues.

England’s Premier League, the most watched of the world’s football leagues, condemned the Super League plan as a blow to the hopes of the millions of fans who support smaller clubs in England and around Europe.

Under current rules of relegation and promotion based on on-the-field performance, any club can hope to compete against the powerhouse teams at some point.

The Premier League says it opposes the breakaway European Super League.
The Premier League says it opposes the breakaway European Super League. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

“Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream,” a Premier League statement said.

“It is clear that this would be damaging to English and European football at all levels and will attack the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are fundamental to competitive sport,” said a statement from England’s Football Association, which oversees one of the sport’s oldest and most-storied competitions, the FA Cup.

5:56 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Governing bodies lambast plans for Super League

By Kevin Dotson, Brad Lendon and John Sinnott

It’s fair to say that initial reaction to European Super League has been overwhelmingly hostile.

FIFA said that it would not recognize the breakaway organization and went so far as to say that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation.”

FIFA says players could be banned from competing in the World Cup.
FIFA says players could be banned from competing in the World Cup. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

That would include football's top international competition, the World Cup, which is held every four years; the Champions League, which now brings together Europe’s best clubs every year, and any regional competitions like the European Championship or the Africa Cup of Nations.

In UEFA’s Sunday statement, it referenced FIFA’s earlier statement stressing that Super League clubs “will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

4:49 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

'Irresponsible to irreparably damage' European football

By Kevin Dotson, Brad Lendon and John Sinnott

What’s striking about the so-called European Super League is which clubs aren’t part of it, notably Bayern Munich and Champions League semifinalist Paris Saint-Germain.

Christian Seifert, CEO of the German Football Association (DFL), said his organization opposes the concept of a European Super League.

“Economic interest of a few top clubs in England, Italy, and Spain should not lead to the abolishment of established structures in European football as a consequence,” Seifert said in a statement.

Seifert added that it would be “irresponsible to irreparably damage the national leagues as the basis of European professional football.”

Christian Seifert presents Bayern Munich with the 2020 Bundesliga title.
Christian Seifert presents Bayern Munich with the 2020 Bundesliga title. KAI PFAFFENBACH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images