SportsThe suffocation of football

The suffocation of football



The voracity of tax collection as a result of the hyperinflation of the market has plunged football into a totum revolotum complex solution. All the agents involved in their industry and governance are eagerly exploring new formulas that will bring them an increase in their income to maintain competitiveness at the stroke of the checkbook. In addition to the UEFA Nations League and the new Champions League format with 100 more matches from 2024, FIFA’s initiative to implement a World Cup every two years has been added. And the Superliga has not yet disappeared from the horizon: after its failure last April, the three clubs (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus) that are still firm in taking it forward are now trying to resurrect it with a more open and less elitist model of the that do not yet have a defined format. Soccer as a sport and business faces several decisive decisions for its future in the coming months.

Waiting for what the Court of Justice of the European Union dictates on whether there is abuse of dominance and monopoly in the organization of competitions by UEFA and FIFA, as denounced by the Super League, is in the attempt to establish the biennial World Cup and the frontal opposition of UEFA where the strong existing conflict is now focused. The battle unleashed between the two organizations to take over the calendar with their respective competitions has the system on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, the players, the main actors in the opulent spectacle of professional football, are victims of an exhaustive programming of matches that pushes their bodies to the limit. From the world footballers union (FIFPRO) they put as an example of the intense and fierce calendar the case of the Barcelona player Pedri, who competed from September 2020 to August 2021 without rest or the 220,000 kilometers that the Korean Son (Tottenham) has traveled in the last three years.

FIFA held a meeting yesterday with the world footballers’ union in which it heard their complaints and their proposals. FIFPRO maintains that both the FIFA and UEFA calendars are influenced by commercial reasons and the opinion of the players is not taken into account. Their claims are not only aimed at protecting affiliates who perform at the highest level. If for these, 2% of the total number, they demand a less exhausting schedule, for players from countries where football is not so developed they ask that tournaments and structures be generated that improve their competitiveness. FIFPRO is open to dialogue on the two versions of the calendar that FIFA has proposed, but defends that before making such important decisions as a World Cup every two years or organizing a Super League, in the case of the clubs involved, footballers must be more taken into account.

Less windows

The new FIFA calendar as an alternative to the current one offers two solutions to accommodate your plan. One concentrates the windows of the qualifying matches of the national teams in the month of October (28 days) by the various windows of the current one (50 days). This option does not displease the clubs, but the federations do, who do not want to see the opportunity to sell national team football reduced to a single month. The second schedule sets the international meetings in three weeks in October and two in March (28 days). On either of these two bases, FIFA would establish the World Cup every two years and also the continental competitions of teams such as the Eurocup, these in odd years from 2025, as advanced by Cadena SER. UEFA is also opposed to a biennial European Union. Part of the South American teams and the Association of European Clubs, which will refuse to give in to the players, are other important players who do not want a World Cup every two years. Also the European leagues, which meet this Friday, will maintain a hostile stance towards the idea of ​​FIFA and also about the Super League’s attempt to create a more open competition, a position to which they do not give credibility.

Last Wednesday, an armistice was reached at the FIFA Council in order to be able to present on December 20 a proposal for a calendar and tournaments that satisfies all parties. The agreement will not be easy. The market dictates that television operators and sponsors are not inclined to increase investment. Sources familiar with the negotiations do not even rule out that there is no quorum on the indicated date and that the negotiations are extended in time until the first half of 2022.

The president of FIFA, the Swiss Gianni Infantino, and that of UEFA, the Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin, despite their personal differences and the different interests they defend, will negotiate. The former does not see badly banishing the idea of ​​the biennial World Cup if UEFA does not torpedo the Club World Cup with the best European teams in contention and agrees that at least the Women’s World Cup is held every two years. A global League of Nations is also on the table. With these letters they will sit down, also aware that if there is no pact, the system on which the opulence of both organizations has been built could burst.

Loss of attractiveness among younger generations

The preparation of the international calendar responds to periods of four years. The current one, for men’s football, ends in 2024, and for women’s football in 2023. FIFA is the one with the final power over the final distribution of the dates that must be negotiated in the coming weeks to present the agreement on the next 20 December before the federations. In his speech after the FIFA Council on Tuesday, the president of FIFA, the Swiss Gianni Infantino, put on the table the need to tackle a new calendar with more attractive competitions for the new generations. “Younger people now have much more to focus their attention on and football runs the risk of losing its appeal,” Infantino warned. Both in the Superliga gene and in that of the new Champions League format from 2024 and in the biennial World Cup plan, there is the conviction that a greater number of matches between the great teams and national teams will attract young people. < / CW>

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