The soccer news starts with the latest version of what most would see as an old situation. FIFA's mandate to grow the game however their membership sees fit pushing up against what the fans of the game might want. The conclusion of UEFA's Nations League suggested that this is a tournament some fans might want. At least fans of the teams that advanced to the semifinals. What that isn't is a broader mandate for the entirety of the multi-league system UEFA imposed across European soccer.
For soccer's governing bodies, it's easy to confuse the two. Right now, all involved want more. Whether it's expanding existing tournaments or creating new ones, there's a noticeable push for additional games. As noticeable is the push back, specifically from European clubs.
At the FIFA Congress earlier this month, unanimously reelected president Gianni Infantino assured media that the European clubs would participate in the revamped Club World Cup. That wasn't necessarily a given, with some of the elite clubs asking why FIFA went ahead with the revamp without the buy-in of the biggest clubs in the sport.
That created an interesting scenario for UEFA, currently considering revamping the Champions League group stage and adding another European club competition. That they're also at odds with FIFA over a proposed global Nations League may not be all that surprising. This is how the sport is working right now.
Meanwhile, FIFA's biggest revamp waits for the 2026 World Cup. Moving from 32 to 48 teams not only changes the scope of the Cup itself. It revamps qualifying in a way that should make it significantly easier for a lot of teams. FIFA's delayed announcement on whether expansion would or wouldn't happen for 2022 means we don't know how World Cup qualifying will work in Concacaf. There's been reports suggesting an Octagonal instead of a Hexagonal. Either one might stick around for the 2026 qualifying cycle with the expectation that the North American zone will get in as hosts. Beyond that, who knows?
That's the issue for FIFA at the top of world soccer. Forcing so many changes now creates a new order for the sport. How the sport responds isn't a given.
Also in the soccer news, two MLS teams exited the 2019 US Open Cup in the fourth round. Chicago lost 2-1 at St Louis FC and LAFC knocked out Real Salt Lake 3-0 away. Atlanta's game at Charleston was postponed due to field conditions.
“We are very disappointed," Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We let ourselves down today. We said that it wasn’t going to be easy. There are no excuses for this performance even though that we wanted it and we created a lot of opportunities. But, at the end of the day, so far this year has been pretty much the same. We create a lot of opportunities, we dominate, we don’t convert, and then on the first counter or first opportunity that our opponent has we concede a goal.”
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