Super Greed: The Fight for Football is the first faithful cinematic telling of the 48-hour debacle known as the European Super League (ESL). It will not be the last.
Looking back to Apr-2021, you might recall the Super League with blurry pandemic memories. But because this documentary is from Fulwell73 and Sky Sports, whose business is to cater to football fans, it is hard-hitting and helps us relive the anguish of those few days. It really is like rubbing an enormous pimple on the foreheads of 12 billionaires, and it is so satisfying when the zits pop.
On Sunday, Apr-18-2021, the Times broke the story that the biggest clubs were going to form their own closed competition instead of playing in the Champions League. The participants in the Super League would be by closed membership, without promotion or relegation. Resistance was immediate.
When originally announced back in Jun-2021, the filmmakers planned to interview the 12 clubs who participated: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, ManCity, ManU, Tottenham, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus. But they all refused to be interviewed.
So what’s really great about the film is that Director Carl Hindmarch instead documents the past and present reactions, opinions, and insider info from executives of UEFA and domestic leagues, non-Super League club owners, fans, journalists, media, players, coaches, celebrities, members of Parliament, and Boris Johnson.
Through all the stories, we learn the history of such breakaway competitions (this wasn’t the first time), and why the financial losses in the pandemic were the rationale for Real Madrid, ManU, and Juventus to push hard on getting the Super League done. We also learn why the ESL failed: amongst all the resistance above, Chelsea fan protests were the really critical piece. UEFA and England’s FA strategized that if the least financially needy EPL clubs dropped out (Chelsea and ManCity), the Super League would collapse.
“You greedy bastards!”
There are so many excellent interviews and video clips in this film, especially with the journalists. But I was most impressed by the brutal honesty of UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, La Liga president Javier Tebas, and Crystal Palace owner Steve Parrish.
UEFA head Čeferin tells how Juventus owner Agnelli repeatedly lied to him. La Liga president Tebas says that Gianni Infantino knew what was going on and should have been forced to resign as FIFA president. At virtually the last minute, Infantino supported UEFA, but document evidence indicates he was likely aware of the Super League intrigue for many months. Perpetrators like Florentino Perez only see what is good for their personal wealth and their club and really don’t care about any other club.
“We had information about some secret docs for months, but we trusted people, we are, we might be naive, but for me it’s always better to be naive than to be a liar. In a way, I’m happy that this happened, because before we were always thinking, where are they hiding? We heard rumors about this and that.
And you know, now we know there are 12 people who don’t care about anybody else. Who think they can get even more money, and they are already unbelievably rich. This narcissism is so typical for this group, but it’s okay. … We are not for profit only. They think it’s a party for a few rich people who sit in the room and decide about everything. … Football will not be sold to, I call them, dirty dozen.”Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA
“This decision is monumental, and I’m heartbroken by it, genuinely heartbroken by it. I’m heartbroken because the owners of these teams have displayed the worst kind of greed I’ve ever seen in sport.”James Cordon on youtube
“Maybe they just thought, do you know what? This would be a bit crap. That’s what I like to think, you know, and it would be a bit naff really, you know, and dare I say, a bit American. And everybody seems to not like it and we’re not making ourselves very popular, so let’s not do it.”Steve Parrish, Crystal Palace
“We saved football!”A youtube summary of the protest from Chelsea fan Thogden (footage was used in the film)
In 2023, Jeff Zimbalist came out with a 4-episode mini-series called Super League: The War for Football. I really like both treatments, although I rate Zimbalist’s version higher because the longer form has such a wealth of information along with interviews with the Super League founders.
I also updated this review to align with the wikipedia spelling of Aleksander Čeferin’s name rather than the forms “Aleksander Seferin” and “Alex Seferin” used in this film.
9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9