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European Super League: Fan backlash to crush breakaway ‘strongest message sent in football’, says Mikel Arteta

·4 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta says the failed launch of the European Super League shows how fans are “the soul of this sport” and sent the “strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world” to ensure the breakaway competition was stopped.

Arsenal, along with the rest of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, signed up to the new Super League late on Sunday night, but pulled out on Tuesday along with the rest of the English clubs.

The club have since apologised to supporters and Arteta revealed on Thursday morning that owner Stan Kroenke had said to sorry him and his squad as well.

Arsenal pulled out of the competition following a huge backlash from their supporters and football fans around the country.

Arteta has described their movement as a “tsunami” and he believes it has showed how important fans are to football.

“I think this has given big lessons and it shows the importance of football in the world,” said Arteta.

“And it shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans - and that’s it. During this pandemic, for a year, we have been trying to sustain this industry with no fans in the stadium.

“But, when the fans have to come out and talk, they’ve done it really loud and clear, and they sent probably the strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world.

“And every club, leaving their interests apart, has done the right thing - which is, they are the ones (the fans), we have to listen to them, we put it aside and in 24 hours we kill the project.

“So that is a massive statement for the history of football.

“I found out just a little bit before the news was leaked. And then everything was completely out of control and the world reacted in a really unified manner.

“There was not really time to think about it, reflect and evaluate or anything because by the time that was out, a big tsunami already came onto it and basically killed it.”

Speaking ahead of Everton’s clash with Arsenal, Arteta revealed he had been in direct contact with Gunners owner Kroenke and his son Josh, who is a director.

The Spaniard explained the club’s billionaire owner had apologised for his role in the Super League and insisted he had Arsenal’s best interest at heart.

“As always, every time we need something and something is happening they (the owners) are straight away ready to act, to give us the answers they can do, the support they can do and they have done it again,” said Arteta.

“They have the maximum responsibility to run the football club and that is what they said: ‘Apologies for disturbing the team, we did it without the capacity to communicate in a different way earlier and pass on my message to the players' - that is all you can ask for.

“All of them had the right intentions to defend the club and put the club in the best possible position for now and for the future, but accepting that the way it was handled has had terrible consequences and that it was a mistake.

“I have to really respect that when people have genuine intentions to do the best for the club and then they can stand up here and apologise.”

There is growing unrest among the Arsenal fans, who are planning to protest against Kroenke ahead of the game against Everton on Friday night.

Protests were already planned to take place against the Super League, but now that it is dead in the water attention has turned to Kroenke.

Supporters already had a fractured relationship with the owner and his role in trying to launch the Super League has reopened old wounds.

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) have said Kroenke is “not fit to own Arsenal”, while they also want him to pay any costs for the Gunners leaving the Super League.

They tweeted on Wednesday night: “Reports Arsenal could have lost up to £8m on Super League costs. That’s many times more than the salaries of the 55 they made redundant.

“What a disgraceful farce. Any costs should be borne by Kroenke and not Arsenal. It was his idea. He should pay #KroenkeOut #FansIn”.

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