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Why Christians should care about the European Super League

Posted by on April 22, 2021 — Drop A Comment


Yesterday I spoke in the House of
Commons … about football because this is
a week where sport has moved from the
back page of the paper to well and truly
being on the front page.
The plans for a European Super League in
football have caused huge controversy.
But does it really matter? Should it matter
to Christians?
Well, football has a long association with
Christianity in this country: English clubs
such as Manchester City, Everton, Fulham
and Southampton were all founded by
churches, bringing communities together
socially as well as physically.


Today football combines competition and
community. The hooliganism that blighted
the game in the seventies and eighties has
been largely stamped out, it’s a much more
family-oriented affair today and it’s a sport
that more than at any other time
transcends politics and class.

So why all the fuss about the European
Super League? Well, the proposal is that
six English clubs will break away to set up
their own league alongside other European
elite teams. None of these teams will ever
face relegation from the new league and
other teams will only be invited to join
temporarily if they have won their own
domestic league. So this is a closed shop.
You only get to be in the league if you have
the money to buy your way in and you can
never be relegated.
The point of the league is to garner huge
amounts of TV and sponsorship cash for
the dozen or so clubs that belong to it.
There is of course only so much money to
go around, so this will be at the expense of
domestic leagues including the lower
leagues and non-league clubs. It’s robbing
the poor to help the rich. These big clubs
have lost billions between them during
Covid whilst they continue to pay each of
their star players more per week than the
average fan will earn in a decade. Put
bluntly, these clubs are both wealthy and
desperate.
Some will say that football is a business,
that there’s always been money involved –
but this is quite different: in one sweep it
undermines the community and supporter
aspect of the game and puts it entirely on
a commercial, money-making level. It’s the
elite few ruining the people’s game without
a thought for the fans, and entirely for
money.
In my humble view, it utterly stinks.

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But why should Christians care? You may
not think this is an area where you need to
hold an opinion unless you are a big
football fan, or that it’s just too trivial for
Christians to muster a view about.
But the Super League exposes issues of
corruption, concentration of power,
community cohesion, aspiration and
character-building for young people right
down to the level of the local non-league or
school club. It’s about fun and taking
pleasure in simple things.
The Bible tells us to seek the welfare of the
place where we live. Football captures our
imaginations, defines us, unites us, levels
us and dramatically affects our morale and
mood – it clearly contributes to our
national welfare. So given the importance
of football at all levels to our life as a
country, we should surely want to see
godly values expressed in how the game is
run. To do damage to a game loved by
millions in order to generate millions for a
few sounds unequivocally wrong to me and
we should say so.
One of the Bible verses that moves me the
most is Luke 12v7 or Matthew 10v30
‘even the very hairs on your head are all
numbered’. I love this because it speaks of
a God who knows and loves me intimately,
forensically, and cares for every aspect of
my existence not just the big life and death
stuff, but other apparently more trival
things that nevertheless capture my
imagination … including football. So, if
people care about what’s happening to
football then you can be sure that God
cares too.
Tim Farron has been the Member of
Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale
since 2005, and served as the Leader of the
Liberal Democrat Party from 2015 to 2017.
Tim is also the host of ‘A Mucky Business’
podcast, which unpacks the murky world of
politics and encourages believers around the
UK to engage prayerfully. You can find it on
your chosen podcast provider.

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