Wednesday’s soccer news starts with another way to look at the club vs country issues in world soccer. Clubs are the primary employer of players, and they’d like the greatest return for their money. That means the most use of those players. Unfortunately for that mindset, professional soccer is a game of club and country, not one or the other. Balancing that is FIFA’s job, building mandatory release windows into the international calendar.
Those release windows are now at issue as FIFA solicits opinions on how to revamp the schedule. The last time FIFA changed the calendar, the August international window went away. This time, the reported plans are significantly more disruptive. FIFA is promoting October as a month-long break for national team duty alongside a similar plan that would add a second international break in March.
Whether or not that’s good for the clubs is an open question. Stopping league play for a month early in the season seems strange, but so does next year’s break to stage a World Cup in November and December. FIFA has a way of getting some version of what it wants, made clear through their public push to build support for a biennial World Cup.
These discussions eventually focus on what clubs would prefer, specifically European clubs. They wanted fewer international breaks and higher compensation for using their players at the World Cup, EURO championship, and qualifiers. All of that happened, perhaps tipping the balance in the club vs country debate.
However, both are parts of the whole when it comes to the career of a professional soccer player. One over the other misses the point. The scope of world soccer is just that, playing for titles with their club while also playing for international glory with their country. Getting that competitive balance right requires more than a month on international duty and a long wait before tournament play in the summer.
Sticking to the reality of what FIFA is suggesting would change the game in ways that are already easy to see. For example, a key player picks up an injury in late September and is out for the entirety of the international schedule during that club season. Sure, in the new version of international soccer there’s a major tournament every summer, but there’s a real and substantial opportunity cost. Addressing that in full requires more than appeasing the clubs while creating a new version of international soccer.
AFP has DFB director Oliver Bierhoff arguing against the biennial World Cup plan. The Athletic’s Christopher Kamrani profiles FC Dallas and USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi. SI’s Avi Creditor does the opposition research for the USMNT. Pro Soccer Talk’s Joe Prince-Wright highlights roster issues for Gregg Berhalter and his staff. The Sporting News’ Mike Decourcy looks at opportunities for USMNT players. Goal’s Ryan Tomlich talks to USMNT alums about watching qualifiers. Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy reports on Jamaica without Michail Antonio. The LA Galaxy’s Julian Araujo announces an international switch to Mexico. The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace profiles Canada coach John Herdman.
Marca’s Pablo Polo works through Real Madrid’s issues. FourFourTwo’s Richard Jolly uses the link with Kylian Mbappe to make a point about Real Madrid’s drawing power. iNews’ Daniel Storey reports on Mainz’s efforts in trying to become a carbon zero club. Inside World Soccer’s Paul Nicholson explains the situation with the 2021 Club World Cup. The NY Times’ Tariq Panja explains the business issues for Ligue 1 clubs.
THURSDAY’S SOCCER TV
World Cup qualifying on ESPN Deportes: Australia vs Oman at 2:30pm. ESPN2 has USA vs Jamaica at 7:30pm. Univision has Mexico vs Canada at 9:45pm. Nations League semifinals on ESPN2: Belgium vs France at 2:45pm ET.
𝐀𝐋𝐋. 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐑. 𝐆𝐀𝐌𝐄.
The 2022 @MLS All-Star Game will be at Allianz Field.
How ‘bout that? pic.twitter.com/h6GP5qzrn5
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) October 5, 2021
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