In the era of globalization a tournament thousands of miles away teaches us that passion is the backbone of a game and merely, money cannot salvage it
One of my colleagues, a top cricket journalist of Bangladesh, texted me - “Football is never sold to money. Tell me more,” no sooner he, and the entire football world, received the earth-shattering news of the inception of the European Super League - a tournament of ultra elite clubs that may change the landscape of the beautiful game forever.
I smiled back while replying, "In the era of hyper-consumerism, the most popular game on earth was already established as one of the most lucrative commodities albeit in much subtler way than that of cricket."
In this era of super-discrimination, the so-called top 1% in the top of economic class is getting ever so voracious.
The billionaires, at their core believe that they are "too big to fail" and they want to ensure as much monopoly and hegemony as possible.
Football, despite being titled as the people’s game for decades, is not spared from their claws as soon as it was successfully turned into a commodity.
It was evident even in the writings of Eduardo Galeano, arguably the most romantic football writer, the revolutionary South American, as he clearly expressed his loathe to Fifa and other footballing organizations for "killing the game" by making it a mere "television product" and compel the players and stadiums to become the conduit of advertisements.
Diego Armando Maradona, perhaps the greatest footballer in history, always had the same sentiment till his untimely death last year.
Ironically, organizations like Fifa and Uefa are now being attacked from a different perspective, from the richest clubs of Europe.
By now, almost everybody knows about the ESL, so it will be a waste of space elaborating on the matter.
In short, it is a 23-year plan of 15 fixed clubs along with five fringe clubs.
European football's governing body UEFA have expressed their disapproval, claiming players participating in the Super...Posted by Sports Tribune on Sunday, 18 April 2021
They shall play a year-long cash rich tournament instead of playing the prestigious Uefa Champions League.
Thanks to the backing of JP Morgan, the American investment company, the clubs will not only ensure at least three times the profit, but also more matches in the tournament without the fear of being relegated or eliminated.
The clubs believe they are the chief risk takers as they spend truckloads of money for wages and nurturing of players and are the main attractions of the game thanks to huge number of followers around the globe.
So, they should not only get most of the dividends from the profit yielded by tournaments like UCL, but also should have more control on those events.
The demands, one must say, are rational and their claim of Fifa and Uefa being corrupted and greedy have been proven on a number of occasions over the years.
In the era of the Covid-19 pandemic, they were hurt most financially, and it is for the sake of the game that they must be compensated well.
However, on that very logic the fallacy looms simultaneously.
As Marcelo Bielsa, one of the most revered coaches in the current era, portrayed beautifully - "One of the reasons football is the most popular sport in the world, is because the weak can beat the powerful.”
So, a league where teams will enjoy the preset favor of not being ousted for performance, and enjoy guarantee of presence instead, is, against the core philosophy of the game.
On the other hand, like the real world, the wealth of elites are not endowed by their own contributions only and it is imperative they fulfill their responsibilities by helping the "have nots", at least financially.
Addressing an emergency meeting the day after 12 of Europe's top clubs announced the Super League, Ceferin launched a scathing attack on the plan, which has been widely condemned across the game and beyondSports Tribune on Monday, 19 April 2021
That responsibility, as a matter of fact, helps the society rolling.
In footballing terms, the "elite clubs" may deserve getting the lion's share of profit, but they cannot afford to leave behind the other clubs in the football ecosystem and create their own fantasy land.
Especially in the time of the pandemic, they may face greater loss, but the loss incurred to smaller clubs actually proved lethal as many were annihilated, and stopped existing altogether.
Having said all these, the tussle of big clubs and governing bodies are not new.
The clubs threatened to hold this type of breakaway leagues almost twice every decade in the last 50 years or so.
The clubs formed G14 at the turn of the century and that worked well as they compelled Fifa to give them profit even from World Cup games, and compensation if any of their players get injured during international duty.
It is a war between two parties who are basically motivated by money despite all their fancy talks of love, passion, duty and so forth, to the game.
Hence, it is very much possible that the ploy is basically a bargaining chip for the clubs, although they have gone furthest this time around.
The clubs very much know they cannot thrive if the game itself is killed.
The superstars are not born out of thin air and the lower clubs must survive to not only nurture them but also ignite the passion of the game.
Speaking for the first time since 12 top European clubs announced on Sunday that they would form a new elite league, the new chairman of the Super League said football needed to evolve and adapt to the times.Posted by Sports Tribune on Tuesday, 20 April 2021
In contrast, the governing bodies also must realize, the geese those lay golden eggs can’t be killed.
Moreover, the lengthy legal battle may not help them as they are expecting now.
A recent European court ruling regarding a private event of a skating proved that the verdict in most of the cases lean towards the players’ welfare.
However, the litigations will not help the clubs either as those will damage their finances and reputation.
And thus one can speculate, in the end all this hullaballoo of ESL will be a mere bargaining chip that will strengthen the elite clubs even more.
The spectators, who are supposed to be the lifeblood of the game, are in loss-loss situation as these continuous battles will make the game more mechanical, a mere money-making tool, tantamount to killing the game.
Perhaps it is high time to rephrase a "not so adorable" former US president by saying “Make the game great again” by instilling more passion.
For us, the Bangladeshis, who have no business with European football, the situation is even sadder.
We could neither sustain the passion nor turn it into a lucrative commodity.
My cricket loving colleague (I also love cricket passionately) may laugh at the demise of football but in the era of globalization a tournament thousands of miles away teaches us that passion is the backbone of a game and merely money cannot salvage it.