By Christophe Jost
I wonder how UEFA are feeling now that FIFA is making a real power grab on the calendar, clubs and players….
While they were fighting out the Super League in front of EU courts, FIFA was waiting for the chicken to come home to roost. They let UEFA do the dirty work, were in the meantime preparing calendar changes, new tournaments, enlargement of the competition and now that they know the EU market is nowhere near a US model, they can just swallow players, teams and money.
It looks like EU courts will not allow the ESL to happen (without UEFA acceptance). The conclusions sent to the court can be kind of summarised as follows: football revenue in its global entirety does get trickled down to some extent all the way to children’s football, thus it has a form of social and educational role, so the fact that UEFA has specific rules in terms of competition and locking in players is ok because it is for some ‘general good’. Of course here are probably some other issues, but in general, the ‘monopoly’ of UEFA and FIFA looks to be validated with this main argument.
So, this means
1) no competing championship not sanctioned by UEFA and FIFA – which means all football revenue goes through them.
2) football players are stuck in a global soccer league with no way to play for any organisation that is not a club inside FIFA, and if in Europe, inside UEFA
3) revenue from these competitions goes through continental organisations or FIFA depending on the competition
4) national championships are in the sole propriety of the national FAs and the revenue goes through them
Now, from a FIFA perspective, the only way to generate more revenue is to have more games organised by FIFA, which relies on one vote per football association (not per country, as the UK has 4 FAs) for each FA worldwide.
Now for a World Cup, and all of FIFA revenue, you can bet one thing: the ‘European market’ is generating the most income, income which is then split with all the rest of the world.
So a small country like, for example. some island in the Pacific or the North Sea gets a much larger share of revenue then they can generate from the fact that they have a team.
Meanwhile, Infantino needs to get re-elected. And what did this World Cup just show? A much higher visibility of non-European countries in the qualifying rounds, and quite a few upsets, but then, except for Morocco, the European countries + Brasil + Argentina were again the teams making it way up.
Yet many of the players for the small country teams are playing in European championships. So they are costing their FA of origin nothing, but generating large revenues.
FIFA will expand the number of countries….which means so many more FA honchos from smaller countries getting their tickets and lavishing hospitality packages, souvenirs etc. and the Football Associations that these honchos manage get more money.
This is “Trickle down economics” that works….and makes sure the head honcho has a far better chance to get elected: 40 or so UEFA countries against 140 world countries…who do you think wins?
And if you consider Infantino’s position, well, getting elected for four more years gives him a good reason to stay in Qatar, and his strategy is to evade the Swiss courts.
Now, at the end of this World Cup – and after what looks like the legal win of UEFA in the EU courts, he announced two other things: a World Cup every 3 (Three !) years and a club world championship.
From whichever angle you look at it, it means that either the European cup of nations is dead – they can’t run it in ‘pair’ years’, or it will have to go every three years as well, which means that one of the competitions will have to be held in the European winter if a regular rhythm has to be kept….it ain’t going to be the UEFA competition, so it means a FIFA competition.
This means the southern hemisphere with a strong chance of oil monarchies because of the financials involved.
The other thing it does, is to suck in money from sponsors. And earn the money on the back of European clubs. Money that then gets siphoned off to 180+ national FAs.
And as money is not infinite, that money does not go to competing competitions from UEFA for example.
Which makes Infantino ready to get re-elected in the following election when that money starts to find its way into all these FA coffers.
Then you add a club world championship and you can even start to ask yourself the question if the Champion’s League still can exist just because of the pile-up of fixtures.
I have no idea how that championship would happen, but if the “1 FA – 1 vote” system of FIFA is used, well all small countries will vote for the off chance that their national champion gets to host Bayern. Arsenal or PSG at some point in the future.
And as the revenue is then a FIFA revenue, they’ll get their spoils as well.
With the EU courts’ decision that looks like it makes FIFA monopoly legal, then it means that chosen clubs will not have much of an option to refuse being ‘invited’ (summoned?) to a club world competition. Yet, they already play so many games… don’t they?
And their players will have more internationals to play. So maybe at some point said clubs will have to say: oh we can’t compete in the national FA with the first team anymore, or even in a European competition.
Ain’t that a reason why fans were rebelling against the ESL by the way ?
Looks like this time they won’t have a word to say.
A solution FIFA might come up with would be to enlarge teams. Which would mean more money for agents, intermediaries, FAs, more ‘footballer jobs’ for smaller countries’ footballers,… kind of: if you need more players, create the job openings.
But. as everyone knows, you don’t create more Messis, Haalands or Oodegards by having more players playing football.
And we have not even seen the beginning of the financial and sporting tsunami that probably will hit European football once the potential revenue from the ESL does not materialise for Juventus, Barcelona and Madrid.
I really wonder when the s..t is going to hit the fan and if anything will be done to ‘save’ these legendary football clubs.
Fascinating to watch such power grabs and power games. Game of Thrones, get out of the way, InFIFAntino is coming….
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