I must say that in twenty some odd years of following football or soccer as we call it here in the U.S. I have never been so angry and offended by a single decision as by the Premier League’s announcement to add a 39th round of matches on foreign soil beginning in 2011.
This decision is so offensive and so wrong I am not even sure where to begin. The idea of a domestic league simply exporting its product and playing competitive matches in the middle of its season is simply put an insult to the footballers and managers in one of the world’s finest leagues. In addition it is an afront on all of the things that make World Football the sport it is to play competitive meaningful matches on the soil of another nations whose first divisions are accredited and recognized by FIFA.
The Premier League is a distinctly English product and while in my opinion it is the world best football league to watch weekly, I am not sure I agree with the legions of critics in this country who some how think it is superior to any other league in the world and that every other European first division plays an inferior brand of football. I happen to believe in many ways Serie A and Italy and the Bundesliga 1 in Germany are every bit as good in quality and better in competitiveness and tactics than the Premier League. Spain’s La Liga, I would put fourth (or lower) on any list of world leagues. But rating the leagues isn’t the issue. It is the arrogance of one league which is distinctly domestic product to run rough shot over the entire established order of governance of the sport. The arrogance of one league whose money and corporate driven agenda is so out of control, it reflects in almost every decision the league makes these days.
A s I stated before the Premier League is an English product or at least was. In this new order the fans of four clubs with massive international followings and two others with decent sized international followings (Spurs and Newcastle) will be alright, but what about the rest of the Premier League and what about the Coca Cola Football League clubs in England? What happens to those Boro fans whose working class wages are hardly enough to buy tickets for a matches at the Riverside where prices go up every season or two, while Boro fans see less and less hope of cup and league glory? How about the fan of any number of clubs in the midlands who now not only misses a league fixture because it is being played somewhere else and because of the costs involved in maintaining this circus may have to give up a season card outright? What about the FIFA sanctioned domestic leagues (including MLS) who play in the nations which the Premier League will be visiting? After seeing Manchester United or Liverpool in person more are more American fans with no ties whatsoever to England are bound to proclaim “MLS isn’t good enough for my support, the faster it goes away the better,” as I have seen on some message boards already from alleged supporters of the game in this nation? Most importantly to me will the PL’s circus tour drive young kids who are learning the game from China, Japan, and of course the US to turn on their domestic leagues, not follow it and not aspire to play in MLS? Will these same kids when given the opportunity to move overseas to a Dutch or English club always choose the English club, even though as we have pointed out before on this site player development of Americans is measurably better in Holland?
One reason I believe Mexico is always in better footballing shape than the U.S. even when we defeat them is that their youth grow up wanting to be the next star for America or Chivas not for Real Madrid, Arsenal or even the Azzuri, like many in the U.S. That may be changing with the likes of Gio, Carlos Vela and Andreas Guardado being abroad at a young age. Last week, my co-host Dave Denholm pointed a statistic from his Super Bowl media packet which was music to my ears. Seven to twelve years old in the U.S. list MLS as one of their favorite spectator sports. I am sure it is the same for domestic leagues in other nations touched by the Premier League’s greed and imperialistic designs. FIFA must step in and stop this wrong headed move.