Diversity destroyed: Blame Uefa for another uninspiring finale

COLUMN: Real Madrid against Atletico is the second successive same-country CL decider and indicative of how the biggest clubs in Europe have it all their own way

The Champions League final is an event for the people of Spain this year and not for the people of wider Europe.

Unless you’re a follower of Real Madrid or Atletico there is unlikely to be a buzz for the final in whichever part of Europe you happen to be. That is not to say that it is not an intriguing encounter in its own right. It would, however, be more appropriate for it to take place in the final of the Copa del Rey.

Last year’s final in Wembley between Bayern Munich and Dortmund was similar in that respect. It would have made a decent DFB-Pokal final but it really was not for a Europe-wide audience.

Parochial battles, however, are now the norm in the latter stages of the Champions League. When Real and Atleti kick off in Lisbon it will be the fifth final to be contested by representatives of the same national association in the 17 seasons since the restructuring of the competition.

Real Madrid against Valencia was the first in 2000. That was followed in 2003 by the all-Italian affair between AC Milan and Juventus. Manchester United faced Chelsea in Moscow in 2008 before Bayern’s match against Dortmund last season. Very much the new reality.

Only four times since the restructuring for the 1997-98 edition of the Champions League have all four semi-finalists come from four different countries. Two of those occasions were in the first two seasons of the newly-formatted competition. There hasn’t been a semi-final comprising four teams from four separate countries since 2010.

On six occasions the semi-finalists have been drawn from only two countries. We have, so far, been spared the indignity of four competing teams from the same country in the semi-finals, but the Italians, the Spanish and the English have been pretty close.

                Deja-vu | The first all-Spanish Champions League final between Real Madrid and Valencia

In that respect the finalists for this season’s competition were never going to surprise anyone. They were always going to be the better teams from the bigger leagues from within the first two pots. Uefa has effectively tweaked the draw to ensure this remains the case. Atletico might be the ‘feel-good’ story of the competition but the fact they could avoid Real and Barcelona until the quarter-finals held them in good stead.

Uefa has extinguished the thrilling diversity of European football; the Champions League has been reduced to a random derby generator. This, however, is how Uefa likes it and the clubs too. But why?

Real Madrid and Napoli were drawn in the first round against each other in 1987 meaning that the European Cup would lose the representative team from one of the richest television territories. More was done to safeguard the participation and progress of European elite sides and keep the money rolling in. The Champions League was born. It was expanded in line with clubs’ wishes in 1997 when Uefa recognised the threat posed by the mooted Media Partners super league. Using the Italian company’s interest in a breakaway as leverage, the biggest clubs in Europe initiated an expanded tournament.

It’s an evolving, ongoing process of appeasement that is likely to create a new conversation when the memorandum of understanding between Uefa and the ECA – the European Club Association – comes to an end in 2018. Plans are clearly already afoot behind the curtain to kick off a Super League although the ECA would not care to admit it.

“I have heard about a project they have already in some kind of box,” Milan coach Clarence Seedorf has told the BBC. “I believe in a European League. I would like to see more quality in the game and fewer games mean more quality.”

If Michel Platini and Uefa don’t play ball with the clubs which command the attention, they are at risk of losing them altogether. That, in turn, means making the draw as predictable as possible.

With Financial Fair Play now beginning to bite, there is an uneasy truce. Uefa permits anything and everything to favour the major clubs in the Champions League, but off the field matters could become difficult between the governing body and its members.

There are complaints about how Spanish TV money has recently been a carve-up between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Uefa, through the Champions League, is no different in the way it looks after its cash cows.

Despite that, the threat of a mass exodus hangs over Uefa and its flagship competition. It is nothing without the clubs and, so, they are effectively free to run the Champions League themselves like a cartel.

“I feel inside our game there are some voices behind the scenes coming up to do something if the rules become too restrictive for these clubs,” Arsene Wenger said in 2009.

“The way we are going financially is that even the money that will be coming in from the Champions League will not be enough for some clubs because they spend too much money.”

Already representatives from Juventus, Milan, Barcelona, Galatasaray and more have confirmed that they would be interested in a breakaway venture.

Uefa’s current operation involving funneling the biggest clubs from England, Spain and Germany as far as possible in the Champions League without significant opposition has discredited a once-majestic tournament, but it is keeping the giants satiated.

And if the clubs under the ECA umbrella do decide to walk away in 2018 to establish their own league, without anything approaching financial controls, then Uefa will have to ask itself if it was all worthwhile.

23

05 2014
No Comments »

Your Comment

SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   300-115   300-101   1Y0-201   200-125   200-125   100-105   100-105   200-120   210-260   200-310   SY0-401   810-403   300-320   400-101   70-533   N10-006   MB2-707   210-060   400-201   350-018   ADM-201   CISSP   1Z0-060   400-051   300-075   MB2-704   100-101   352-001   70-486   300-135   NS0-157   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   810-403   200-120   400-101   CISSP   300-320   350-018   300-101   210-260   300-208   MB2-707   400-201   SY0-401   210-060   300-070   210-260   300-075   300-101   NSE4   EX200   200-120   CISSP   400-101   810-403   300-320   210-060   300-070   210-260   300-075   300-101   NSE4   EX200   300-115   100-101   220-801   N10-006   642-999   SSCP   100-101   1Z0-803   9L0-012   70-480   200-310   As a professional IT exam study material provider, Gives you more than just exam questions and answers. We provide our customers with the most accurate study material about the exam and the guarantee of pass. We assist you to prepare for almost all the main certifications which are regarded valuable the IT sector.Certifications provide a structure and a reason to learn a new technology and they can help IT professionals boost their resume and keep their skills sharp. Certifications from leading vendors are the first step toward gaining industry-recognized expertise in a relevant domain, and will surely be a valuable asset for any candidate. 1Z0-808   AWS-SYSOPS   1Z0-434   300-070   CAS-002   200-310   640-911   300-075   MB2-704   100-101   210-065   300-075   210-060   400-101   CAS-002   1Z0-425   1Z0-480   1Z0-028   1Z0-465   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   PCNSE7   1Z0-546   VCS-273   JK0-U21   70-532   210-260   400-251   70-411   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   200-101   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803