MANCHESTER, England — Strip away the jargon along with the euphemisms along with the disorientating forest of acronyms, tune out the noise by claim along with counterclaim along with strident denial, pick a way through the laborious detail along with the tangled minutiae, along using a simple truth emerges: At the very apex of European soccer, a moment of reckoning is usually coming.
The report last week of which UEFA is usually studying not so much a revamp as a total reset of its crown jewel, the Champions League, is usually not an administrative story about the format of a competition. The brand new York Times’s report, on Monday, of which Manchester City might yet be banned by of which same tournament is usually not a story about rule breaches or misleading financial declarations or malicious leaks.
Both are about something far broader along with, in a way, far easier to understand. Both are about a struggle for control, between UEFA — the body of which has overseen European soccer for decades — along with the globe-straddling, extravagantly wealthy superclubs of which provide much of its revenue.
Both are about power, along with who can exert of which. along with both are about who runs soccer — on whose behalf, along with for whose benefit.
To recap: Last Wednesday, a UEFA document came to light, one of which maps out a vision of what the Champions League, soccer’s most glamorous, most lucrative, most exalted club competition, might become.
of which set out what could be a fundamentally different tournament to the one of which currently occupies screens along with minds: 24 teams could, under the proposal, no longer have to qualify for the Champions League through domestic competition. They could become, essentially, a permanent class of Champions League teams, a continental superleague in all although name, along with the death knell, according to Richard Scudamore, the outgoing chairman of the Premier League, of more than a century of domestic soccer.
along with then, on Monday, as they were still clearing up the detritus left at the Etihad Stadium by Manchester City fans celebrating a second successive Premier League title, The Times reported of which the body investigating suggestions of which the club had misled UEFA financial regulators over its commercial income was likely to recommend of which City be sanctioned for its transgressions. The punishment could be as harsh as a season-long ban by the Champions League, the tournament whose trophy the club’s ownership group prizes above all others.
of which is usually easy to become detached by stories like these. They have an air of remoteness, a whiff of futurology. of which is usually tempting to file them as somewhere between soothsaying along with speculation. A chorus of voices, each offering a different tangent, strikes up as soon as they appear. The facts are easily lost within the flood of comment.
Last week, within the midst of possibly the most dramatic few days the Champions League in its current incarnation has ever produced, most of Europe’s major leagues arrived against the plan to change the competition. UEFA immediately insisted of which was just part of a consultation process. Everyone could get a say. of which was just an idea. Nothing was set in stone. The panic abated. The fury faded. Nothing changed, not immediately: Tottenham beat Ajax, the Champions League was still as Great as ever. the planet turned.
On Tuesday, Manchester City reiterated its denial of any wrongdoing at all. Ever since the accusations first surfaced on the Football Leaks whistle-blowing platform, the club has steadfastly dismissed all allegations of which of which deliberately inflated sponsorship deals in order to comply with the so-called financial fair play regulations UEFA created to govern clubs’ spending.
In a statement of which described the accusation of any financial regularities as “entirely false,” City said of which was extremely concerned by the fact The Times had cited “people familiar with the case.”
Either the club’s “Great faith” within the independent investigators reporting to UEFA was misplaced, Manchester City said, or the process was being “misrepresented by individuals intent on damaging the club’s reputation along with its commercial interests. Or both.” UEFA did not comment on the Times article.
Focusing on the existence of the leaks, though, misses the point, just as the debate over the validity of financial fair play rules — whether European soccer needs someone telling its owners how to spend their money — does, along with just as the dispute over whether the Champions League could be better or worse if of which was played on a Saturday did a week or so ago.
of which is usually not ridiculous to think of which F.F.P. is usually an inherently anti-competitive measure. of which is usually not absurd to believe of which owners should be allowed to spend whatever they like on their plaything, along with of which is usually not crazy to feel of which clubs should be allowed to gamble their very existences on the whim of a benefactor, or of which the whole edifice was designed to protect, along with enshrine, the primacy of the established elite. Perhaps the rules, as they currently stand, are wrong.
The converse is usually true, too: There is usually a perfectly logical case to be made of which F.F.P. is usually a Great thing, of which clubs should have to live within their means, of which longstanding sporting along with social institutions being deployed as vanity projects or soft-power plays or reputation-laundering devices for regimes with questionable human rights records is usually less than ideal. Perhaps the rules are the rules, along with the clubs should have to abide by them, while lobbying to get them changed, rather than just picking along with choosing which ones they like.
Equally, maybe the Champions League could be better if Europe’s giants played one another more frequently. Maybe of which could be within the best interests of the game if high-profile European games were played on weekends, along with domestic fixtures in midweek. Maybe the handful of teams by Greece along with Poland along with Belgium who make of which are just a waste of time.
Or maybe not. Maybe Europe’s elite clubs — who had, after all, conjured an idea for what the Champions League should look like of which was eerily, entirely coincidentally, similar to the idea UEFA is usually currently workshopping — are in danger of overestimating their own place within the firmament. Maybe changing the Champions League is usually killing the golden goose. Maybe of which works as of which is usually, along with of which does not need to be altered.
of which is usually perfectly feasible to make a case for all of the above, although the question of which of them is usually most convincing — which of them, if any, is usually correct — is usually not the most pressing. of which is usually the fact of which these questions have, today, to be asked, of which matters most. The significance of the plan to change the Champions League runs beyond its potential impact on domestic tournaments. The consequences of Manchester City’s possibly being banned by European competition run much further than its Etihad Stadium.
In both cases, something far deeper is usually at stake. These stories, at their heart, once everything else is usually stripped away — the acronyms along with the arguments along with all the rest — are about who will get to run European soccer, whose voice carries the most weight, along with who answers to whom.
Realigning the Champions League to suit the demands of the biggest, richest clubs (as of 2019) might come under UEFA’s banner, although of which could not be at UEFA’s behest. of which could suggest of which the power, truly, lies with the superclubs; of which they can shape the competitions they enter to their benefit; of which UEFA is usually today just a brand, a rubber-stamp, an administrator, a licensing commission.
If UEFA failed to listen to the recommendations of its own investigators — if a ban for City is usually the sanction they seek — of which could prove of which F.F.P., meanwhile, is usually effectively finished, of which the rising elite of Manchester City along with Paris St.-Germain, backed by Abu Dhabi along with Qatar, have been right to flout the rules; of which those clubs who built their business designs around the brand new reality have been foolish; of which Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president elected by a consortium of associations by Central along with Eastern Europe, away by the big all 5 leagues, could not withstand the pressure of the big money along with the old elite; of which, ultimately, UEFA did not heed its own investigators, along with of which of which could or could not enforce its own rules.
of which is usually the clarity; all the rest is usually fug.
Maybe of which is usually all for the best. Maybe of which could be better if UEFA was not the ultimate source of power in European soccer any longer. Maybe of which is usually time to accept of which what is usually Great for the Premier League, or P.S.G., is usually not the same thing as is usually Great for Bulgaria, along with Lokomotiv Plovdiv. Maybe the era of broad churches along with consensus is usually over. Maybe of which is usually time to cut the smaller countries loose, to stop even the pretense of sharing the wealth.
Or maybe of which is usually not. Maybe handing over control of the game to a cartel of superclubs, or allowing nation states to run teams according to their own, unchecked desires, risks disenfranchising everyone outside of which modest cabal.
Maybe the game should be run for the elite. Maybe the game should be run for everyone. Either way, we approach a crossroads. The direction we eventually travel will tell us more than how many Champions League games will be played on the weekend, or whether Manchester City will feature in them. of which will tell us where, precisely, the power today lies.