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American soccer fans debate European Super League

In the NEW episode, number 220, Christopher Harris and co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including:

• Your thoughts and opinions about the attempted Americanization of European soccer
• Why MLS journalists have largely been silent about The Super League
• What NBC missing out on NHL rights means for the Premier League
• Plus letters from you, the listeners, in our mailbag section.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Karl

    May 5, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    @Rob & @Michael F

    Excellent points. I like Chris and Karthik but I feel they’re being disingenuous by calling this “Americanization” and not understanding that the ESL proposal is very similar to Euroleague basketball (which even if you don’t follow is quite easy to read up on via Wikipedia). The call was from inside the house and ESL would look like just as much of a bastardization of American pro sports as it would have of existing European soccer.

  2. Michael F

    May 4, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    @Rob. Nice job providing actual parallel examples that show how ludicrous this notion that the ‘super league’ was an like an ‘Americanization’ of European soccer. American professional sports isn’t so debased and corrupt to defy its own lengthy history and tradition as what these greedy European football club owners attempted to do with the “super league.”

    And with all due respect to Kartik and Chris (who normally have good material here), but just because you keep using this term ‘Americanization’ of European soccer … doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

  3. Rob

    May 4, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    @Michael F – spot on. The closest analogue in any sport is the Euroleague basketball tournament, which has a fixed annual membership + invitation model (notably, Real Madrid and Barcelona’s basketball teams are members). The NFL isn’t inviting Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, and Notre Dame to come participate every year, and the Dodgers don’t get to rack up wins against overmatched, less financially viable opponents like the Fresno Grizzlies, Sacramento Rivercats, and Visalia Rawhide while participating in a “prestige” tournament with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs. The idea of generating a guaranteed income stream is certainly a feature of American sports ownership, but this proposal didnt resemble anything that currently takes place over here.

  4. Michael F

    May 4, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    I’ve read on this soccer site too many references that claim this ‘super league’ was an attempt to “Americanize” their sport of football.

    You couldn’t be more wrong about that.

    Americans have had closed professional leagues for more than 100 years now and this concept of a ‘super league’ was NOT a closed competition. It was still to be a tournament format similar to the champions league — but the only major difference is… a special consideration as a lock for 12 elite big money clubs across three countries to always play in this ‘super league’ tournament regardless of where they stood in domestic league standings. Then… an invitation for a few more clubs to play in this tournament based on yearly performance in their respective domestic leagues? If I have that last part right.

    How is this anything like American pro sports leagues??

    These 12 clubs that want this special treatment still wanted to continue to compete in their respective domestic leagues!… but be annulled from having to ‘earn’ their way to higher European level competition for a trophy.

    Again… the ‘super league’ is a tournament with special concession for these 12 clubs to always play in it. This would have of course completely destroyed the tradition and culture of European football and earning spots to play for trophies that always had been (ie. promotion/relegation structure) in place for well over 100 years.

    This is nothing at all like American pro sports!! In American pro sports (which is its long standing tradition), you still have to earn your way by winning more than losing in regular season play so as to play for a trophy via a playoff system. The idea of the ‘super league’ was not American in any way! It was not to be a closed league, but it would certainly benefit those few rich clubs that were always a lock to play in it all the time.

    So let’s stop this crazy notion that it was an attempt to ‘Americanize’ this sport in Europe. ‘Bastardizing’ it… is the more appropriate term for it.

  5. Fechin Attuah

    May 3, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    @Chris Guardiano
    Nascar and the fox rights are up in 2025 along with NBC. Because I think FOX wants the XFL and maybe the NBA. INDYCAR said programming to them is more important than finances so maybe if NBC offers to stream along with peacock and USA and NBC simulcast rights then I think Indy will stay with NBC plus an increase in rights. But if CBS puts INDYCAR in cbs sports network then that’s a bad investment since the channel is only in 60 million homes and cable is dying anyways. INDY needs to be on CBS digital sports platform and Paramount plus and CBS. I only see NBC ditching NASCAR is the broadcast rights is more expensive and NASCAR doesn’t want to stream live races on peacock. Didn’t paramount plus say they want to other sports other than soccer because they need other sports than just soccer. Not everyone wants to subscribe to a service for players to just kick a ball you know?

    Also isn’t discovery plus planning to get live sports in the US and not just the UK?

  6. Yespage

    May 3, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Ian, is breaking out the checkbook going to work when the Potters have failed in signing talent since Hughes?

  7. disco george

    May 3, 2021 at 10:26 am

    A few random points in response to the latest pod:
    1) Regarding the MLS Supporters’ Shield, remember when the group that oversees it tried to essentially cancel it last year because of COVID and the regionalization of the schedule? There was a swift backlash on that decision, and we saw how much that trophy meant to the players, coaches, and many fans who spoke out and got it restored pretty quickly. Reinforcing the old “the Supporters Shield doesn’t mean anything” trope seems off to me.
    2) I’d be hesitant to assign any blanket motivation for people in the US watching/supporting football. Even among fans of MLS teams, you get a wide range of people, from those who have been around the game for a long time and are well-versed in the global context, to those who might have just gone to their first game and are still trying to learn about the domestic scene, let alone understand the international aspects. It is possible for people in the US to go to watch their local teams (whether MLS, NWSL, USL, NPSL, etc.), enjoy going to matches and following those teams, and appreciate them for what they are without stanning the leagues themselves, despite what a lot of the discourse around all of this seems to imply.
    3) I totally agree with the “overload” comments. Even though I’m that weirdo who will watch a random USL game on a Friday night if it happens to be on, I have access to far more games than I can watch and still be a functioning human being, and I don’t even have beIN. It’s really amazing how much things have changed since I was playing U-14s and I was just stoked to be able to watch one or two World Cup matches.

  8. Chris Guardiano

    May 1, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    Hi guys,
    I loved the format of the pod this week because it allowed for greater participation from all listeners, not just the ones that listen and comment regularly like myself. It is definitely something that should done more frequently. I have a question for either of you about Turner Sports/HBO Max. My question is: With the recent acquisition of the NHL by Turner and inclusion of HBO Max into the deal, do you see them wanting to add MLS to HBO Max or even becoming a player in the Premier League rights war? Thanks for your insights and opinions and keep up the great work.

  9. Chris Guardiano

    May 1, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    @Jasinho I totally agree with your points and I especially agree with Pro/Rel being introduced at some point to MLS/USL because there some clubs particularly in MLS like Chicago who haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade and regularly finish at the bottom of not only the Eastern Conference but the entire league. This is because management/ownership don’t feel a sense of urgency to improve the team. Pro/Rel would greatly change this mindset because there would be consequences for not improving the team although there would be people that would say more clubs would go out of business because owners would pull their funding if their team got relegated.

  10. IanCransonsKnees

    May 1, 2021 at 5:09 am

    Just renewed my season ticket at the now not so mighty Potters Yespage. Even we struggle on a cold Wednesday night now though.

    Still £344 for a full season though so can’t complain too much. Need to bin FFP off so we can get the cheque book out though.

  11. Yespage

    April 30, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Promotion and relegation / Euro Cup positions / lack of playoffs make the entire season important and compelling. Every game. I watch the EPL because that was what became available to watch the earliest via Fox Sports World coverage. Then through a package on Directv of 1 or 2 games a week! The EPL was as exotic it was. Then Fox had the rights to it and shared with Setanta and ESPN. Everything else wasn’t really available. I was a fan of Liverpool because I like speed and Michael Owen was an absolute rocket. Years later, after they stymied Liverpool, I also became a fan of Stoke City because of their small club grit.

    Economically, the game has changed a bit because it was bought out by big money, and most big money want more money. However, in Europe, these clubs have more history than some democracies! Being foreign, the owners were wildly unappreciative of this aspect of the game.

  12. Robert321BOOM!

    April 30, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    The main reason I got into English football was the pro/rel aspects of it and the history of the clubs that are a 100+ years old that can be found in all four levels of the top four leagues. I’d love to see my Detroit Lions sent down for a few years, LOL

  13. José Cerrato

    April 30, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    *tenga

  14. José Cerrato

    April 30, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Uau, un podcast de una hora y 49 minutos.
    No a la Superliga Europea, a los futboleros no nos gusta el sistema estadounidense de no descenso.
    Me gusta la MLS, pero quiero que tengo ascenso/descenso.

  15. Turfit

    April 30, 2021 at 11:33 am

    This “Super League” only talked about teams from the “Big 5” leagues in Europe. I expect to see smaller leagues in Europe to start merging in-order to be more competitive with the big 5. Several months ago we heard Belgium and Netherlands wanted to merge and become BeNeLeague but I think they will just be the start of a lot more to come. Might even see a Portugal/France merger………..
    Also expect leagues to reduce number of clubs in top leagues to open up for more European matches.
    I do not like the ideal of a MLS/LigaMX merger. I would much rather see an expanded CONCACAF competition. I do not like the politics of MLS so I seldom watch them but I do watch a lot of LigaMX (TUDN in English). But a regional Pro/Rel MLS is very interesting but as Chris said it is not about the soccer, it is about making money for the owners/franchises so it is something we will never see.

  16. Jasinho

    April 30, 2021 at 2:27 am

    I would like to take issue with a lot of those who think native-born Americans like yours truly who only watch European football are either plastic or trendy compared to those who watch MLS or fans of the non big-six clubs.

    I have watched every World Cup since Italia ’90 and to this day, the World Cup is the focal point of my family get-togethers every few years. But prior to MLS, I honestly thought football was played professionally in Mexico as that was the only league available on any television around the late ’80s/early ’90s on Univision. The main problem with football on television especially back then is that it is more likely to be overshadowed by either American Football in the Fall, basketball and hockey in winter and early spring, then baseball in late Spring. This is true today albeit to a reduced extent. The main advantage of the European leagues stateside is that most matches don’t overlap unless and until the early afternoon, and depending on the magnitude of the game and modern technologies available I can alternate between my TV and my tablet as far as what I want to watch.

    Fast forward many years later to the 2005 UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan, which was my introduction to European club football and arguably one of the greatest matches I’ve ever witnessed. It was that day I’ve realized that all these years of trying to get into MLS didn’t add to much more than a failed effort. Since I was a DirecTV customer, I was able to get Setanta sports and start following the Premier League, and Liverpool, on a more regular basis prior to coming onto FOX sports, ESPN, and later NBC Sports. The same can be said for GOL TV prior to BeIN Sports and their coverage of Serie A.

    The 2005-06 season was my first full season of watching the UEFA Champions League and arguably, that helped me get my fix of high level football with barely familiar opponents outside the World Cup. However the real epiphany for me came at the 2006 World Cup when I’ve noticed how many more faces and names became familiar and it was then where I have noticed a robust link between the UCL, the European domestic leagues, and the World Cup. At that point my club football watching progressed to matches within the various leagues that have Champions League implications.

    I haven’t paid much attention the Pro/Rel concept until a few years later when the Bolton Wanderers and the Blackburn Rovers, two clubs with long and proud histories, were relegated from the Premier League the same season Manchester City won the Premier League for the first time. It was then when I picked up the idea that if a team underperforms, they go to a lower league to fight its way back in to the top flight. I can think of several American pro teams that could use this as their wakeup call.

    With respect to MLS and Liga MX merging, I would rather wait to see how the new CONCACAF champions league materializes in a couple of years.

  17. IanCransonsKnees

    April 30, 2021 at 2:23 am

    I think the comment about bandwagon jumpers and snobs supporting the ‘cool’ clubs is interesting in relation to the proposed ESL.

    Surely it stands to reason that those inclined to do this would be squeezed toward supporting the top half dozen reams in the ESL to retain their feeling of shared superiority and satisfy the vacuous desire to lord it over the normal fan?

  18. Don Dickerson

    April 29, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    Roberto I do not believe people follow European teams because of Pro/Reg. They are snobs or bandwagon supporters, who follow the cool teams and have no knowledge of these teams, just a team shirt.

    I can agree most Americans fall into this group. However I personally like watching the relegation teams. This year I’ve enjoyed watching Armenia Belifield I like Crystal Palace but due to not buying cable and Peacock I haven’t watched them. However my big club is Ajax. Personally I might be the minority of the minority because the most matches I’ve watched in 1 League is the India Premier League I think I watched 80% of the matches since I could watch while I ate breakfast every day. All that being said I hope Man City vs Madrid is the Champions League match for the title.

  19. JP

    April 29, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    Great marathon podcast this week!
    1) Don’t believe American viewers of European leagues do so because of pro/rel. It’s all about the talent, and the talent/matches are usually higher quality than that of MLS.
    One feature it has over MLS that does help a lot though; priorities other than just winning a league title that keep the European leagues interesting until the very end. Usually know who’s going to win the title before the final weeks, but the competition for UCL/EL slots still makes it very compelling. Few years ago a final match day clash of Lazio and Inter for the final UCL spot gave it a championship game level intensity. Couple years before that it was Napoli and Lazio.
    You get the point. That’s in addition to league cups that can make a season somewhat successful even without winning the title.
    If somehow MLS became the league all the top global talent flocks to, much like the NBA, NHL, and MLB to for basketball, hockey, and baseball, then American viewers would tune in

  20. Roberto

    April 29, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Well I am not disappointed any more. Good work, you both clarified so points and the feedback was very useful.
    Two areas that got may attention, were your need for the for The PST web-site to watch so many games. The listings of possible games to watch each week is amazing but maybe a problem. In the past people were fans of a teams or possible a couple of teams. Now for many people, they have become consumers of football. In order to try and keep up with leagues, instead of teams, it is important for some people to watch lots of games. Being old and a person who enjoyed the simpler times, I will stick with following, the Sounders, Leicester, Brentford and St. Pauli.
    I do not believe people follow European teams because of Pro/Reg. They are snobs or bandwagon supporters, who follow the cool teams and have no knowledge of these teams, just a team shirt.

  21. Ricco Richardson

    April 29, 2021 at 3:46 am

    NBC and the premier league-
    it makes since for NBC to show case the games on TV involving the top teams or the more well known/popular and hot streaking teams. struggling teams and relegation races just don’t make for good TV. those teams should stay on the streaming! also If the EPL go back to their regular sometime formats, it’ll be even more difficult for NBC to show more Games at 7am on TV!

  22. Ricco Richardson

    April 29, 2021 at 3:43 am

    liga mx and MLS merger? Or their version of a super league?
    To be honest I don’t see the benefit right now for MLS because MLS isn’t a major league in the US. Most markets teams are hardly a footnote in daily news. nationally the league is not mainstream enough to be comparable to the NHL. ligaMX teams have great presence in the Spanish speaking US market but not in the regular Mainstream American market. it’s better off without a merger. Places like Houston sellout Games featuring Mexican teams because of the obvious Demographic but that’s how far it goes!

  23. Ricco Richardson

    April 29, 2021 at 3:40 am

    Episode 220
    1. The NFL Is a LEAGUE- actually two leagues under one Super league. Chris You tend to forget We in America have our lingo and customs and culture! . Especially in Sports! our Franchises are clubs too! A lot more stable than probably most European soccer clubs! $13 Billion annually in revenue proves a awful lot. soccer maybe the World game but America is the king of Sports! ask Forbes, ask the Olympic Committee!

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