Louis Saha is not happy. It has been a difficult week. For the past seven days, supporters have turned against owners, players turned against clubs, and plunged the football pyramid into chaos from top to bottom.
The sheer disgust felt in the sport after the attempted breakout from the European Super League is likely to simmer for some time to come, and the usually affable Saha, a man with a rich beam for a smile, is certainly angry.
“My first thought was that it was an attack on the football principle,” says Saha Sportsmail. ‘It was really hard to understand how they managed to make such a decision.
Louis Saha shared his anger at the European Super League’s fateful proposals Sportsmail
Massive protests have been held by supporters of many clubs after the breakout stopped
‘To make such a decision without the help of players or thinking about the reaction of fans, I couldn’t believe it. I was really angry that they didn’t even consider people. They didn’t even think; they just made the decision to save the world without asking anyone else. It was crazy. ‘
His bewilderment is a common feeling right now. Even from the warm and comfortable seclusion of his home, frustration and bitterness pours through Saha’s comments.
But among the passionate rants about ownership and calls for fans to stay up, there’s something else – a desire that we all get better than this.
Real Madrid supremo Florentino Perez (pictured above) is the president of the Super League
Andrea Agnelli (left) and Joel Glazer (right) also played key roles in the controversial competition
How did all this happen? It is a question that will certainly be of concern to many for years to come. However, Saha would like us to remember the basics – that sport is for the people, and only for the people. He thinks it would be nowhere without them.
‘Everyone is a fan,’ he emphasizes. ‘You sport as a fan first. The ability to express my passion has been compromised in a way, it is not the same. It was really important that everyone got together to really fight that. When you are alone you are alone. You have to be brave enough to really express it. ‘
The ones that are in fact isolated are the “big guns,” as Saha calls them, among the 12 founders of the fateful Super League.
Their moves to enter the league, then quickly withdraw after being hit by a wave of condemnation, are the antithesis of the principles the former Everton and Manchester United man aspires to.
Manchester United fans protested the Glazer family’s property at Old Trafford
The much-maligned Avram (left) and Joel Glazer (right) are portrayed in a competition in August 2016
Saha scathingly described Super League plans as an ‘assault on the football principle’
“There is also a lack of respect from other clubs,” says Saha, with whom she works 888sport, says. ‘There is no consultation and no respect. It’s really about integrity.
‘I am strongly convinced that this current ecosystem is not equipped for integrity or ethical behavior. They don’t think like that, they think commercially all the time. That’s the way some people think, but they lack respect. ‘
So do they deserve to be punished after their failed plot? This is where those in charge, in other clubs, in federations or unions, will have to decide. They need to be punished, fines, or whatever in their power, to keep these things from happening again. ‘
He quickly brings up a very valid point. The fact that players are so quickly suspended for misconduct, without so much second chance or time to say sorry, is the perfect contrast to the malaise that had arisen when it comes to taking action against unruly executives.
Former Manchester United ace Saha thinks penalties are needed for the 12 clubs
Saha, who also played for Everton, says the breakout was a ‘disrespect’ from clubs
Fortunately that now seems to have disappeared, but Saha has no intention of stopping there. ‘You can see that it is a different treatment,’ he says. “I can tell you that people deserve to be punished.”
Saha continues to work closely with a number of clubs for his commendable endeavors after his retirement in 2013. As a result, he is more knowledgeable than most about how choices, however divided they may be, are made at the highest level.
“It is a decision of perhaps one or a few individuals,” he reveals, confirming the worst fears that have sprung from the wreckage of the Super League. It is this unbalanced and crazy model of power at clubs that has sparked widespread protests and calls on the government to enact a crackdown by law.
Supporters’ voices are certainly being heard, but perhaps not in the right places, and Saha is fully behind their efforts.
In the wake of the Super League fiasco, Saha says football fans are more important than ever
“I think it’s time to listen to the fans,” says Saha. ‘It means a lot, because normally you don’t hear it. With all due respect to those who make mistakes, anyone can be forgiven, but not to this degree. ‘
United’s owners, the Glazer family, are not particularly thanked for their role in nearly tearing the Premier League and Champions League apart.
They have long been the subject of fan base criticism over their management of the club, and this latest saga has sparked the massive demands for them to come back to life.
Of course, it’s not an easy topic to discuss for former Old Trafford players. It’s unlikely that too many of them will outright call the Glazers to leave, Gary Neville aside of course.
Irked Arsenal supporters recently went to the Emirates to protest against owner Stan Kroenke
But while Saha was reluctant to outright condemn them or reveal whether he sided with the resistance, his stance on the abuse of trust and power of those in charge of large teams was clear.
“Just because you have a club doesn’t mean you own football,” says Saha. ‘The fans make you the owner of the club, but they are not in the discussion. They are not invited. No one will listen to them, they have to be a million, or two or three million.
‘That’s why those people have to organize. We have to organize; we have to make sure that the players are organized. They must be informed; they must be together. They really need to be equipped to change our understanding of what happened. ‘
He doesn’t hesitate to describe the whole messy situation. ‘It was stupid. People may think it is foolish to think like that. Why have they taken these risks? These people are smart.
Saha has labeled the situation in the Super League as ‘stupid’ and says there are hard lessons to be learned
The frustration of passionate fan bases from different clubs is sure to extend into the future
‘It must be explained. Everyone, the fans, the experts, the players, the press and the sponsors, must understand. I think this ecosystem is turning upside down in the sports industry right now. ‘
His firm belief that a recurrence of this storm in the future can only be prevented by learning from what happened will be crucial.
“We need to understand what happened and those who are in a position to make decisions or take sanctions can do that,” he concludes. ‘We need to understand how it happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We have to save football. ‘
People like Saha, those who have the determination and iron conviction that the game will never slip away from us again, could do just that.
Louis Saha spoke on behalf of 888sport. Go to 888sport for the last chances in the Premier League.