FanPost

Elite Clubs Gear Up For 2014 Battle With FIFA, Threaten Breakaway NFL-Style Superleague

I'm Josh, co-editor of Managing Madrid, the Real Madrid blog on SBN, and BB's editor-in-chief, Sebastian, asked me to write a little something here about a story I wrote for our site. For a more detailed view, go to our site and read the article.

Despite all the bad blood stirred up by last season's Clásicostravaganza, Real Madrid and Barcelona are coming together, along with Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, the Milan clubs and a few others, in order to redefine the relationship between club and international football.

The elite clubs of European football are getting sick and tired of a system that exploits their resources while completely marginalizing them from the decisionmaking process. For instance, FIFA makes over $1bn per year in a non-World Cup year, which is primarily generated off of the backs of the stars employed by the elite clubs. Last year, the World Cup made FIFA $3.7bn. Of that, only $40m - just 0.01% - was distributed to the clubs that provided the players in compensation.

If the clubs have a problem with the way things are done in international football - say, with the ridiculous and disruptive international friendly schedule - they can send a delegation to FIFA's sumptuous $150m palace in Switzerland, only to be told to go through proper channels. "Proper channels" means the European Club Association, part of UEFA; these grievances are diluted with those from the other four confederations before being heard by the 21-nation FIFA Committee on Club Football, where club delegations from countries like South Africa and New Zealand get to make choices that have an impact on the revenues of Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Only seven delegates are European. FIFA as a whole is beholden to its corrupt 208-nation congress, which means the incentives are there only to benefit small countries and national associations, not the European clubs that drive the popularity of the sport.

So what are they to do? Well, the clubs (under the auspices of the G-14 group) agreed a deal with FIFA and UEFA the last time things got heated over international football's treatment of the clubs in 2007 wherein they agreed to release their players for international duty until July 2014 - and now they're threatening not only to not renew that deal, but also to form a new breakaway league based off of the NFL and other American sports, with no promotion/relegation and an end-of-season playoff elimination tournament designed to torpedo biennial international tournaments. We'll see how this plays out, but my thought is that it is a bluff designed to force FIFA to the negotiating table. Either way, we might see some significant changes in the hallowed corridors of football politics, because one of the conditions the clubs want is reform of FIFA and UEFA!

<em>This does not represent the views of Barca Blaugranes or SBNation</em>

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