ON SUNDAY, TWELVE OF the most popular and rich clubs in Europe have announced the beginning of a new breakaway tournament called European Super League. The tournament seeks to consolidate profits for the 15 so-called "founder clubs" who will get permanent qualification to this competition without needing to qualify by merit, as required by the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
This attempt by prominent fan favourite clubs to monopolise the market has received widespread criticism from both UEFA, FIFA, the national associations concerned and even the fans of these very clubs from around the world. But for Indian football fans, this is a deja vu moment.
India went through its own major structural disruption when the Indian Super League was launched in 2014. It too was a breakaway tournament, and ran separately from the existing league system. It too got criticised from the stakeholders that were not inside its closed door system. It even led to a lengthy battle between AIFF, their commercial partners FSDL and a group of I-League clubs. The clash ended with the ISL committing to embrace promotion-relegation, and gaining the status of the national league of India, becoming a part of the system. With the ESL set to face challenges from UEFA, FIFA and other stakeholders in the sport, it remains to be seen if the path they take turns out to be similar or not.
It goes without saying that the ISL and ESL are not exactly the same. ISL is a domestic competition, ESL is a continental tournament; and there are some other structural differences between the two. But as the aftermath of the announcement plays out, one cannot but help notice some stark parallels. At the same time, certain key differences between the two are alos emerging; which may become important factors in determining how much the fate of the ESL initiative mirrors that of the ISL or differs from it.
Let's take a look at five fundamental elements that are similar between ISL and ESL, along with five dissimilarities that also stand out.