Pānis et Circēnsēs

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If you are a soccer fan, you have heard about the European Super League. If you are a sports fan, you also have heard about the European Super League. Hell, even if you don’t care about neither soccer, nor sports you most likely have heard about the European Super League.

And yes, I consider myself a soccer fan. Not big one. Armchair fan. But fan, nevertheless. And the whole kerfuffle around ESL was something that entertained me at the time it was announced. And it entertains me even now. Hence the post 🙂

The story, if you listen to the media, or read the social networks, or hear it from those vocal fans that expressed their views quite clear, is that the bad rich owners of 12 European soccer clubs, decided to steal (or kill, depending on who you ask) the game from its rightful owners, and use it to become richer, and bad-er. And then richer, and richer. And all that at the expense of the “real” game, and the “real” fans who would be used as cash cows and just used and abused… And the common people rose against the bad riches, and won, bringing the game back to where it belongs. Back to the people.

Or if you listen to UEFA, the story evolves around 12 treacherous snakes who stabbed the great stewards of the game (that UEFA are) in the back, and went to be richer and bad-er snakes.

Or if you listen to the local countries’ story, it was all about 12 evil money grabbers who wanted to syphon to goods of the local leagues without leaving anything back. Basically to become richer and bad-er.

The story of the clubs is similar, but with a different twist – yes, they wanted more money for sure, but it is only because they are facing extinction and the money they make today are not enough for their survival in the long run. So for them, it is about the money indeed, but money for survival.

And the third point of view is about the soccer liberators – the fans. They saved this beautiful game from the perils and indignation of greed. They saved the “Cold wet windy night at Stoke City” (google it, if you don’t know what it means) and didn’t let soccer become just another game ruled by money… oh, wait…

I mean, seriously?

If there is a sport that is ruled by money, it IS soccer. Just look at the games’ calendar – matches are only added to it, not removed. Do you think it is because the players really, I mean really, want to play Wednesday-Saturday cycle? Does those liberators of the “real game” know what is it for a professional athlete to recover from such grueling schedule? Of course they will recover, they receive millions, and millions. It is scientifically known for years that the more money you make, the faster your body recovers from the stress of professional sports. Or not. Just for the last 4 years, we have seen the “National League” being created (as if there aren’t enough of those boring games), and now the UCL adds more games to its schedule. On top of the domestic leagues and cups. On top of the so-called Clubs World Cup. And hey, why not stage a World Club in the least hospitable place in the world for outdoor activities, and then just kill all club soccer schedules just because we realized that it actually is better if games are not played at 40 degrees Celsius (or more)? And we are doing this all for the sake of the beautiful game, the true football. For nothing else.

The “real football”, if it every existed, died the day the Champions League was created. No longer those pesky Eastern European (mainly) teams would be allowed to get in the mix with the royalty of the great soccer teams of the elite. Who needs to watch them, right?

Please, someone from those protesting fans explain to me, how the Champions League is different from the Super League in terms of making the rich – richer and poor – poorer. It alludes me.

But Kosta, the money from the Champions League are spread across the teams that participate, even at the lower rounds, I will hear you say. And guess what it creates? It creates local monsters that dominate local leagues, only to go 1-2 rounds in the UCL to receive more money to dominate the local league again.

Not to mention the money UCL generates for UEFA, which then go to domestic federations creating exactly the organizations that can never be reformed because it will stop the flow of the money.

But Kosta, you will say, the _small_ teams still have a shot at the UCL, in the Super League there wouldn’t have been no “small” teams. And for that, I would encourage you to visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_Champions_League (and the linked pages from there) and see for yourself which are the teams that reach the quarterfinals and up, year after year since 1992. And check the same before 1992. Check if Steaua ever beat Barca in a final after 1992. Check if Crvena Zvezda ever won it after 1992.

Money. Follow the money… It is always about the money. The earlier fans admit that to themselves, the quicker they will understand how the modern world of soccer works. And they might finally see how they were used as pawns in UEFA’s fight for relevancy and survival against the powers of normalcy. Cause that’s exactly that, the “true football” is no more.

And before I continue, let me address the “world” part of soccer. Cause soccer doesn’t only exist only in Europe. And I am not knowledge enough to say for sure, but _it seems to me_ that it is with the introduction of UCL that the South American soccer bleed into Europe became incontrollable. It is with UCL that African soccer’s bleeding into Europe exacerbated. I don’t know, it just seems to me.

I, for once, wanted to see _some_ change in the way soccer is governed. _Some_ change (decrease) of the number of games throughout an year. _Some_ change in the way a sugar daddy can buy a club, pour money into it and win everything (FFP was supposed to addressed that and failed miserably). And the Super League offered this particular change – it would take power off UEFA. It would take power off the sugar daddies in the European soccer. It had the chance to set a _more level_ playing fields for the teams participating in it, which would have inevitably lead to the same in the teams that are not part of it. It had the chance to create a sustainable business model for soccer clubs so they are not one step from bankruptcy (or seek a sugar daddy) if they want to be successful.

And to everyone who protests for the “clean” game, and for 50%+1 ownership of fans, let me say the ugly truth in no uncertain terms – there is no fan out there who desires anything but success for their club, and the way every single on of them sees success being achieved is by pouring money (oh, that word again) into a club, with expecting nothing in return. And that’s what sugar daddy club owners do.

Look at Newcastle fans and their “love” for the club’s owner, despite the man pouring millions of pounds into it. As if the said club would have even been a viable member of the Premier League without him.
Look at Arsenal fans protesting their club’s ownership and Wenger (back at the time) – while missing the point that their clubs is one of the most well organized and the only reason they are not having “success” is because they are playing against teams not following normal business rules. So the fans protest, and want owners that do not follow normal business rules. Oh, the irony.
You haven’t seen Chelsea fans protesting against their owner did you? Yeah, sure, they staged their “protests” against the Super League participation, but against the owner who actually signed them up for it? No, sir, no way. He might take his toys and leave.
You haven’t seen Man City fans protesting, did you?

It is the ultimate irony that the biggest protesters are fans of clubs who are well ran businesses who will endure and somewhat endure against the clubs that are simply money throwing pits. And whomever thinks (or insists) that clubs are “soccer institutions” and not “businesses”, I would tell them to talk with the fans of the bankrupted “soccer institutions” to see what their opinion would be to have proper businessmen as owners…

This one became disjointed and incoherent text, just like a proper rant would be 🙂 Long time ago, romans gave everyone bread and circuses so the rulership endures and the people are content. Today, we have bread but we long for entertainment. And everyone who vies for public’s attention is ready to give us as much entertainment as they can. The whole story of ESL is the sad and unfulfilled drama that could have lasted years, and years of court battles, disaster PR and protests. And yet, it ended with a whimper. And the only thing that remains for me is to just write this rant, and forget about it. On to the next circus 🙂

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