Friday’s soccer news starts with FIFA and its member Confederations taking time out of their busy schedules to remind us of something obvious. Should the elite European clubs breakaway to form a super league, they’re also breaking away from FIFA. That means super league players wouldn’t be eligible to play for their countries. Specifically, “Any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation.”
It’s worth the reminder that this cuts both ways. Should a true breakaway happen, those super league clubs would also be in the position to deny FIFA and its confederations access to the best players in the game. At least on the surface, there’s also nothing stopping a breakaway super league from coming up with its own international competitions. They couldn’t call it the World Cup, but the status of all soccer tournaments would change as soon as a super league became a reality.
That’s what makes FIFA’s statement interesting. As the NY Times’ Tariq Panja reported it’s in response to another round of rumors centering on a replacement for the Champions League. That would leave clubs still involved in their domestic league. That partial breakaway isn’t exactly new, but it’s also not completely removing the elite teams from the existing structure. Still, the motivation is similar. The simple way of looking at a super league is an obvious conclusion to the escalating values at the top level of club soccer. The pandemic era could force clubs to entertain ideas they might not have as they face reductions in revenue.
In response, FIFA, the confederations, and according to a report from Politico’s Ali Walker even the vice-president of the European Commission are reminding us of a downside that would seem to matter more to the status quo than some nobler vision of what’s good for the game. It’s hard to imagine a lot of groaning because elite players would no longer have to involve themselves in Nations Leagues and expanded tournaments. Setting the prestige of the World Cup aside, there’s not a whole lot there that couldn’t happen under other names from other governing bodies.
That’s organized soccer’s big picture problem with talk of a breakaway. FIFA at the top, the confederations, and the domestic leagues all should recognize that it’s the clubs with the power. That’s certainly playing out in how UEFA, in particular, keeps tweaking the Champions League to please those big clubs. FIFA’s attempt to build out the Club World Cup is a way to add value to a struggling property rather than an obvious answer for what club team is the best in the world. All this does in practical terms is underline that strong position the clubs have held for decades.
Addressing that to satisfy all parties is the only reasonable way forward. UEFA figured that out early on in the Champions League era. Reverting to authority is a misplaced tactic that isn’t likely to impress the clubs then or now. Whether or not a breakaway European super league on the way to a worldwide league is an unavoidable eventuality, there are very good reasons for why it hasn’t happened yet. That has more to do with the clubs than soccer’s bureaucracy.
Moving to the soccer scores, Konrad De La Fuente subbed on in the 101st minute of Barcelona’s 2-0 win at Cornella in the Copa del Rey round of 32. The game finished scoreless in regulation with Ousmane Dembele scoring in the 92nd minute. Cornella went a man down in the 118th. Martin Braithwaite scored for Barcelona in the 120th. Sergino Dest wasn’t in the squad for Barcelona. In the league, Yunus Musah subbed on in the 59th minute of Valencia’s 1-1 home draw with Osasuna. Valencia trailed from the 42nd minute with an own-goal leveling the score in the 69th.
Mark McKenzie wasn’t in the squad for KAA Gent’s 1-1 draw at Racing Genk. Down a goal from the 7th and up a man from the 12th, Roman Yaremchuk equalized for KAA Gent in first-half stoppage time. Tyler Boydwas out for Besiktas in their 4-1 win at Fatih Karagumruk. Vincent Aboubaker put Besiktas up in the 44th minute with Bernard Mensah scoring in the 50th. Cyle Larin made it 3-0 in the 66th with Mensah scoring again in the 70th minute. Fabio Borini converted a Fatih Karagumruk penalty in the 78th. Eric Lichaj wasn’t in the squad for Fatih Karagumruk.
Ventura Alvarado wasn’t in the squad for Atletico San Luis’s 3-1 home win over Chivas. Ramiro Gonzalez scored for San Luis in the 7th minute with Nicolas Ibanez converting penalties in the 28th and 62nd. Chivas pulled a goal back in the 69th minute. Norwich City announced that USMNT player Sebastian Soto has returned from Telstar.
American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta’s look at the USMNT U-23 roster. MLSsoccer’s Pardeep Cattry has Mix Diskerud signing with Denizlispor. The Guardian’s Sid Lowe on Alcoyano knocking Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey. ESPN with Frank Lampard’s situation as Chelsea manager.
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