The concept is sound, the TV contract outstanding for people in large markets (but non existent for those outside top 25 TV markets) and the marketing is flawless. But this year’s tournament has exposed Superliga as something we had hoped it was not, and sincerely hope it will not be going forward: a sham. Superliga needs to shape up, and it needs to remain in place because it has the potential to be so much more than it has been this year.
Many critics point to the formation of the CONCACAF Champions League as a reason to retire Superliga. My view is if CONCACAF knew how to run a competition properly, Superliga never would have had a window to begin play in 2007. The bottom line is the changing qualification criteria and calender time of the now defunct CONCACAF Champions Cup proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Confederation cannot properly run a tournament. The Champions League must be viewed with skepticism until actually played, because CONCACAF has a long standing record of bungling anything it runs.
But Superliga has proved to be an incredibly flawed product. Beyond the obvious problems with location of matches and officiating has been the continued disastrous handling of the prize money situation by MLS/SUM. Commissioner Garber yesterday shot down the strong statement by players from Houston and New England to pool their prize money. This leaves an incredibly bad taste my mouth as someone who has defended this tournament and its value against critics north and south of the border. This falls also against the backdrop of the ugly incidents in the semifinals, which were so notable they even made the papers across the pond.
How can SUM reconcile these problems?
1- Spread the Tournament out over several months with home and away group matches.
2- Defend the CONCACAF officials openly against charges of favoritism in the Mexican press. Relate to Mexican journalists that these officials are the same individuals assigned to World Cup qualifying matches.
3- Clearly publish the rules of the competition before it begins. This in particular relates to tiebreaker rules which CD Guadalajara was made unaware of until right before the club’s match against Atlante.
4- Open the competition up to the winner of the Central American Club Championship, which this year would have been Montagua from Honduras who at the time sporting Amado Guevara who was on loan from MLS.
5- Ensure the Telefutura announcers do not show their bias during the telecasts. The jingoism of the Telefutura announcers has led indirectly to the return jingoism of some American commentators including yours truly. It’s imperative after so many problems this year that this event returns to being a sporting competition not a war between nations and ethnicities.