If there is one common thread interwoven throughout all European cultures, it must be soccer, right? Perhaps in popular theory. But the conventional wisdom now hangs in the balance as the quest for the almighty buck – that is, the supreme euro – has eroded the very fabric of soccer (no offense to Pete Rozelle, but let’s call it what it really is: football). As “European integration” becomes a buzz word for the 21st century, football will likely play an integral role in either facilitating or decelerating this cultural, political and economic merger of countries.
Football club owners have offered to help the cause by composing a framework for the future European SuperLeague, which would consist of the region’s most elite franchises. Europe has already made a transformation in showcasing athleticism, whether its unbridled fans are willing, as investors assemble to protect their shares in perhaps the most anticipated “cash cow” in sports entertainment.
However, even top football officials have their doubts. FIFA president Sepp Blatter, arguably the most powerful man in football worldwide, has stated his strong opposition to a breakaway superleague.
Regardless, sports business experts insist that any successful venture in football integration would require the solidarity of ownership policies and fan participation. True, the former condition is already growing at an explosive pace. Corporate investors have estimated the economic feasibility of supporting ESL franchises in various cities across Europe. Plans have already been proposed to compete with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in forming the most marketable superleague. Media Partners International, a Milan-based consulting firm, has garnered over $1.2 billion investments from JP Morgan to sustain the ESL for the first three years. Judging from the success of professional sports in the United States, there is no telling of this ufabet ค่าน้ำ league’s untapped potential.
If any doubts of European football’s growth still remain, then consider the burgeoning of players’ salaries. Inter Milan recently acquired Italian striker Christian Vieri for an estimated $43 million, dwarfing the annual payroll of most professional franchises. And the issue of whether Vieri deserved more or less than, say, Michael Jordan (excluding endorsements) is irrelevant. For now, football club owners can afford these superstars because consumers are compliant to rising ticket prices.
However, ESL owners must not discount the relationship between European fans and their revered teams. Football, for countless decades in each country, has supplied a measurement of national identity. As Europeans, during the integration process, ponder the potential void of national traditions, football remains their sole source of patriotic autonomy.
If the ESL passes, then UEFA would be subject to drop one of its Cup competitions, likely the Cup Winners Cup. More importantly, UEFA stands to sacrifice two underlying principles which have sustained the organization’s existence – a commitment to divide Cup proceeds in an equitable manner for all clubs, and to televise all games free of charge to European subscribers.