Hello and welcome back to the Sports Roundup! In last week’s roundup, I briefly talked about the European Super League, but information regarding the league was changing rapidly. One morning, 12 teams had confirmed entry into the league, then the following day, only 6 teams remained committed. Why? The power of the fans, the voice of the people, and that is what I’ll be talking about in today’s roundup. However, before we get there, let’s look through my Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week!
Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week:
5. Countless ATP Upsets! The tennis calendar has resumed to normal this year, albeit without grandstands filled with fans. Nonetheless, the competition has been at an incredibly high level, and young up and coming players have taken the opportunity to verse world-class players with open arms. In the Serbia Open, World Number 1, Novak Djokovic looked certain to reach the final and win the competition; however, an inspired performance by Russian Aslan Karatsev knocked out Djokovic in the Semi-final. World Number 3, Rafael Nadal, face a similar fate, crashing out of the Monte-Carlo Masters in the quarter-final stage by Andrey Rublev. The ATP season so far has been unpredictable, exciting and high-quality tennis, and there are many more months of action to come!
4. Almost an instant classic by Joel Embiid! It’s been a tough week for the Philadelphia 76ers, who are now on a 4-game losing streak and have lost their number one seed placement in the Eastern Conference. However, that streak could have been broken after Joel Embiid threw a Hail Mary at the end of their game against the Phoenix Suns. The 85-foot toss rattled in the ring before bouncing out, taking away what would have been one of the greatest NBA shots of all time.
3. The Royal Challengers Bangalore go from strength to strength! Is this the year for RCB in the Indian Premier League? The Challengers have begun their latest campaign undefeated, culminating in a demolition of the Rajasthan Royals. The opening partnership of captain Virat Kohli and young star Devdutt Padikkal chased down the Royals respectable target of 178 with 21 balls to spare. With the team securing a relatively easy victory without Glenn Maxwell or AB de Villiers having to bat, it’s an ominous sign for the rest of the competition.
2. The Bulldogs First Win! For some, this wouldn’t even get on their Top 10 sporting moments of the week, but this was a special moment for me. The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have been the sporting team I have supported faithfully since the beginning of my interest in sport. There are some severe problems within the club, and although the team’s roster has improved from last season, the team still lost their first 6 games. With a tough upcoming schedule, it looked like that first win may be many weeks away; however, a determined and passionate defensive effort saw the team hold off the Sharks and secure their first win of the 2021 season.
1. The greatest UFC event of all time? UFC 261 was everything you would want from a mixed martial arts event. Unpredictable, dramatic, emotional and incredibly exciting. Valentina Shevchenko showed once again that she has no weaknesses as she dominated Jessica Andrade. The reign of Weili Zhang was brought to an end by Rose Namajunas, who finished the fight in the first round with a perfectly timed head kick. And, the main card finished with an incredible performance by welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who continues to make a claim for being the greatest fighter of all time.
Feature Article: European Super League: The Power of the Fans
Last weekend, news broke that 12 clubs from England, Italy, and Spain had agreed to participate in a new European Super League. This wasn’t just an idea, it had been planned for months, and more details about the competition began to be released. It would take the form of two teams of 10, followed by a play-off phase to determine an overall winner.
The issue with the project was that it undermined every single other competition in European Football. The Champions League, Europa League, and domestic competitions all were neglected and ignored so that these select few super team owners could make more money. Therefore, almost everybody in major football swiftly acted to condemn the plans, even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to take legal action against the competition.
The president of the planned European Super League is also the president of the Spanish club Real Madrid, Florentino Perez. His statements regarding the formation of the league led to a furious response. He stated that the competition was created to “save football” because “young people are no longer interested in football”. The response? Protests by “young” Chelsea supporters outside Stamford Bridge against the club joining the league.
This was the defining moment that brought the European Super League crashing back to reality. The sport isn’t about the owners, the sponsors, the agents, or even the players; it is the fans that the sport is built around. And, it is the fans who have the power. Not even the billions of dollars these team owners have or the signed contracts for a whole new competition could stop the collective power of the fans.
These owners, whether you believe they care about the game at all, completely forgot the reason why their clubs are in the position they are in. The fans and supporters built these teams, and when they are unhappy about certain decisions, there is nothing that can stop their voice or power. I am incredibly proud of the community of football supporters and players who persisted with condemning the league, forcing its rapid downfall.
Manchester City and Chelsea pulled out of the league first, followed by the remaining 4 clubs from the Premier League. The following day, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan also pulled out, leaving only 4 of the initial 12 clubs remaining. The league has officially collapsed, and the fans played an influential role in that occurring.
Sport is nothing without fans. Throughout 2020, we have witnessed how sporting events without fans lose the spectacle and emotion which creates iconic moments. May this situation be a reminder to all team and league owners – the first people you should be consulting when making a decision are the fans because they have more power than you could ever hold.