Chelsea, like some of the other founding clubs, has been taken aback by the strength of opposition to the proposals from its fans and the wider British public. The strength of feeling led to the team’s change of heart, according to the person with knowledge of the club’s plans.
The Guardian newspaper reported the team was forced to pull out after a revolt by players concerned they would not be able to participate for their national teams in global events like the World Cup or regional tournaments like this summer’s European Championship and the Copa América in South America.
Those threats had come from UEFA, which oversees soccer in Europe, including the Champions League, and FIFA, the sport’s global governing body.
FIFA had warned clubs in January that it would bar them and their players from international competitions if they pressed ahead with plans for a new league, and the organization’s president, Gianni Infantino, seemed to renew that threat — without repeating it — in an address to a European soccer congress on Tuesday in Switzerland.
“If some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choice, they are responsible for their choice,” Infantino said in a speech to European soccer leaders in Montreux, Switzerland. “Concretely this means, either you are in, or you are out. You cannot be half in and half out. This has to be absolutely clear.”
The threat, if FIFA was to follow through, carried weight. The 12 Super League clubs employ many of the world’s top players, including the cores of the national teams of Brazil, Argentina, England, Italy, Spain France and even the United States.
Privately some of the clubs involved in the project have expressed frustration about how it had been rolled out since Sunday. A statement to announce a league that its backers said would “open a new chapter for European football” came late on Sunday as much of Europe slept.