Before Liverpool-Real Madrid on Saturday, the sporting balance at the center of the controversy…

A baffling shocker or a boring classic?

The Liverpool-Real Madrid C1 Champions League final, a replica on Saturday evening of the 2018 edition, illustrates a number of major clubs’ monopoly on titles, a challenge to the “competitive balance” aimed at UEFA. European Union.

From Benzema, Kroos and Modric, the four-time winners of C1, to Mane, Salah, Firmino or Van Dijk, crowned Reds in 2019, many players will step into the Stade de France having already picked up Europe’s most prestigious trophies. Above all, since 2011, Spanish (eight times) and English (seven times) clubs represent two-thirds of the finalists of the Champions League, far ahead of German teams (four times), Juventus Turin (two appearances) and Paris Saint-Germain. Germany (once in 2020).

We even have to go back to the crazy 2003-2004 campaign to find a winner outside of Europe’s top five leagues, FC Porto, even if Ajax Amsterdam reach the semi-finals in 2019. “There is an undeniable focus for the most often coveted trophies, which are going Along with widening economic gaps,” sums up Raphael Poli, President of the CIES Football Observatory in Neuchâtel. The observation is correct “between the leagues”, because the English championship “crushes others” in terms of television rights, but also in every country, where “big international brands sold on a global scale” overwhelm local competition. And the sudden increase in European competitions exacerbates this phenomenon, despite the “solidarity payments” of non-participating clubs, by inflating the pockets of leaders and their ability to accumulate talent.

The fourth title in the five years that Manchester City won on Sunday perpetuates dominance at the national level for a club that always points to its European failures, most recently against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. Are City thus the most disadvantaged and unfairly criticized club in England? Olly Scarf / Agence France-Presse

No revolution expected

Under these circumstances, C1 is very different from the ephemeral Super League, a special championship project

Semi-closed was launched last year by twelve major clubs, including Liverpool and Real Madrid, before collapsing in the face of public indignation? The question is crucial for UEFA, which defends the “open” competition model to justify its monopoly, but also for many European football fans, linked to the principle of sporting uncertainty as much as to the success of their club. But if the head of the body Aleksander Ceferin has made “competitive balance” a key goal to maintain “the magic of the game”, as of 2017, progress is slow to emerge, and the topic has not been touched upon. At the last conference in mid-May in Vienna.

Rafael Poli recalls ideas from years ago, from regulatory restrictions on numbers or transfers to “better income distribution” derived from the European Games. The economist adds that it remains to deal with the “very strong reluctance of the richest clubs”, on which the appeal of C1 largely rests and which makes any radical reform unlikely.

Newly reformed, the Financial Fair Play introduced in 2010 will be incorporated from 2023 to 2024 with a reduced “salary cap”, depending on the income of each club participating in European competitions. For the more prosperous teams, it will nevertheless be possible to pay salaries and shift commissions out of reach of a large part of the competition, or even pay any penalties. There is no revolution to be expected from the new format of the Champions League after 2024 either, with the eight-day mini-tournament as the first stage, and then the knockout stage unchanged. Some critics even fear that the eight matches of the first stage (instead of six) will favor the big clubs a bit more, by decreasing the sporting stakes. On the other hand, the future distribution of revenue – on which no agreement has yet been reached – promises to be hotly contested, especially as the increase in the number of matches makes C1 more lucrative than ever.

Coralie Febvre/AFP

Shock or boring classic? The Champions League final (C1) between Liverpool and Real Madrid, a replica on Saturday evening of the 2018 edition, shows a number of major clubs clinching titles, a challenge to “competitive competition”. Balance “targeted by UEFA. From Benzema, Kroos and Modric, four times …

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