Thursday, June 20, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

ESL may be scrapped, but can football really be saved?

Clubs must be forced with a certain maximum limit of expenditure and the difference of financial capacities must be reduced

Update : 23 Apr 2021, 09:50 PM

For legendary Italian sports journalist Gianni Brera, the perfect football match is the one which ends 0-0.

Brera, a staunch fan of catenaccio, the famous Italian style of defensive football, believes the defensive errors are always the primary reason of scoring goals in football matches.

Let us imagine a future football match in a not-so-distant future.

In a big pitch, 22 best programmed robots are participating in the "perfect show".

The advance artificial intelligence technologies have improved the physical and intellectual aspects of those participants so much that the match becomes a showcase of players who never make a mistake, let alone a "human error".

Perhaps that would be the dream match of Brera, but how many of us would spend our money and time to watch such a show?

Perhaps the answer is - almost none.

Because, sociologists and anthropologists around the world for decades found out that the human beings, an irrational entity, loves sports for mainly two reasons - unexpected outcomes and belongingness.

Football provides both.

Often the weaker sides humble the stronger ones and the world’s most popular game can bridge the union to its fans though many facades like clubs, country or even community teams.

One of my colleagues, a top cricket journalist of Bangladesh, texted me - “Football is never sold to money. Tell me...

Posted by Sports Tribune on Tuesday, 20 April 2021

No other game on earth has created so much sub-culture and one may dare to say in modern world there are more football devotees than followers of any single religion.

The English historians always emphasized the importance of "Working Class" to form plethora of clubs and community which were lifeblood for the game at its early stage.

The entrepreneurs utilized the emotion to earn money by turning the game into a commodity but even at the post-modern age of hyper-commodification, the emotional bond between fans and their clubs are not redeemed by any stretch of the imagination.

Rather, many clubs around the world are becoming the junction for the common group of people with social, political and philosophical ideologies.

Thanks to globalization, the fraternity is not restricted on closed-knit physical communities but becoming vast, ubiquitous virtual ones.

In the era of extreme economic inequality, polarization in politics and bifurcations in the societies which are gradually becoming more intolerant, football clubs are becoming the hub of likeminded protestors and symbol of resistance against oppression.

Despite the overwhelming presence of big capitals and giant clubs becoming big corporate entities, the recent phenomena regarding European Super League once again showed that romantic liaison between clubs and fans.

The English and global football lovers disdained the prospect of a league that safeguards the most elite clubs with furore and agitation.

However, the real picture is not that rosy.

The proposition of an elite league did not come out of thin air.

UEFA has said the teams would be banned from domestic and other European competitions, including the Champions League

Posted by Sports Tribune on Tuesday, 20 April 2021

The extreme imbalance in the footballing world actually created ideal hotbed for such ideas to flourish.

German clubs are binded by 50+1 law that makes sure the clubs belong to fans and recently it was proved that law resisted them from joining the ESL.

Ironically, German football observes the single-club hegemony over the years as Bayern Munich are superior in terms of money, political power by far and the yawning gap is increasing exponentially over the years.

The Bavarian club are all set to win their 10th Bundesliga in a row and nobody knows where it will stop. 

The rule of laissez-faire economy will only ensure nobody else will ever win the coveted title.

The situation is same in France and Italy and although Paris Saint Germain and Juventus may not win the domestic league this year, it is highly unlikely either of those clubs may be stopped from winning at least eight titles in the next decade if current system continues.

With an egalitarian approach of disseminating TV revenue, the major income source for the clubs, English mid-table clubs may enjoy a much better financial situation than their European counterparts but the English Premier League is basically dominated by so called "big six" and the fairytale win of Leicester City was an exception rather than the rule.

The same situation prevails in the Champions League, the top club football tournament in the world, as only one team, FC Porto, won the title in the last 25 years outside those proposed 12 ESL teams (actually only eight of them won those titles since 1997).

And, despite all the uncertainties of football it can safely be said that nobody other than those elite clubs are going to clinch the league in near future with the current system where the chance of winning is absolutely proportional with the financial muscle of a club.

The main theme of anti-ESL sentiment was the absence of relegation and guaranteed presence of certain clubs.

Despite the tournament's swift demise, Super League chief Florentino Perez was defiant, saying: "The project is on standby and the project exists"

Posted by Sports Tribune on Thursday, 22 April 2021

But, isn’t it already the case in top leagues?

Is it really possible to topple a rich club from the top tier?

One may say ESL was the dirty power exercise of filthy riches, but in reality, isn’t the so called free-market economy basically champions that very thing?

Isn’t the ultimate result of a laissez-faire economy creating an absolute inequality?

So, the resistance of ESL is only a temporary win of "romantic fans and values", and the likes of Real Madrid president senor Florentino Perez, who led the ESL, will ultimately prevail sooner or later.

One may dislike Perez but one cannot disagree about his accusations against Fifa and Uefa, two very corrupted organizations, and that malice of those regulators will basically accelerate the process of establishing a breakaway league.

What is the solution then?

The people cannot think beyond the logic of capitalism may feel aghast but the answer is imposition of equality.

Clubs must be forced with a certain maximum limit of expenditure and the difference of financial capacities must be reduced.

Otherwise, the path of football seems to be destined to a future where robots will showcase "perfect" game and we will rue, plead, cry for "imperfection".

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