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United fans on the Old Trafford pitch. REUTERS
United fans on the Old Trafford pitch. Photo: Reuters

Protests against Super League force cancellation of one of European soccer's classics

"The Glazers, Perez, Agnelli, Laporta... are dangerous because they threaten the idea of equal opportunities and fair play," said a former Manchester United…

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Thousands of people gathered to raise their voices against Joel Glazer, responsible for embarking Manchester United on the European Super League project, which would involve the most powerful and wealthy teams in Europe.

Manchester United fans were quick to protest against the club's owners' decision and invaded the Old Trafford stadium. This took the police by surprise and forced the suspension of the match against Liverpool.

The fans began to arrive after midday in the vicinity of the stadium, in the center of Manchester, where the team was staying before going to the pitch.

The authorities initially delayed the match, but were forced to cancel the English soccer derby. Manchester United itself issued a statement declaring the match canceled and postponed for another day "due to security considerations." The crowd stopped the players' bus from leaving the stadium and hundreds of protesters managed to enter the stadium. Club employees in charge of security were unable to stop the huge crowds. 

United fans have been expressing their discontent with the Avram brothers and Joel Glazer, who own the club after a controversial takeover in 2005, for two weeks.

In addition to other reasons, United fans were outraged by the decision to include their team in the Super League. Footage from inside Old Trafford broadcast by Sky showed fans strolling around the stadium, raising corner flags, playing ball, taking photos or throwing smoke bombs.

People did not leave the concourse until police entered the stadium with horses.

"What the Glazers and the owners of the other 11 clubs involved have wanted to do has been to drive European soccer into starvation, destroying the ethics of the competition. The Glazers, Perez, Agnelli, Laporta... are dangerous because they threaten the idea of equal opportunities and fair play in European soccer. I do not accept Glazer's apology. He said he wanted to rebuild trust with the supporters. What trust? He never communicated with them, never spoke to them. It's fine for us to protest. But tomorrow we have to legislate because there are six people in English soccer who need to have their power taken away," said Neville, a former Manchester United captain. 

The Super League project, which includes Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Inter, Milan and Juventus, sought a split from the UEFA Champions League to form a parallel company with access restricted to the richest clubs.

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