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Euro 2020, Copa America, Gold Cup & Olympics

In the NEW episode, number 227, Christopher Harris and co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including:

• ESPN & Univision break records with ratings for Euro 2020
• Our thoughts on FOX’s Copa America coverage
• Gauging the level of interest in the Summer Olympics
• Why there’s so much like and dislike for ESPN’s Taylor Twellman
• And your feedback in the Listener Mailbag segment

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

Other discussion points during this week’s podcast include:

• Our takeaways from the Euro 2020 and Copa America tournaments, as well as our thoughts so far on the Concacaf Gold Cup
• News about Univision’s PrendeTV picking up Spanish-language rights to select Brasileirāo and Argentine league games
• Who may be going to ESPN+ and Paramount+ after they picked up the rights to La Liga and Serie A respectively
• Our solution to get rid of extra time and penalties in soccer
• A discussion about the strength of the Concacaf Gold Cup, and whether it’s worthwhile to consider other options so that the US Men’s National Team have the opportunity to play against tougher opposition.

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.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. jason

    July 24, 2021 at 10:56 am

    There are great American analysts out there now. Taylor, Kasey Keller, and Steve Cherundolo are examples. No doubt 100% there is a bias because they have american accents.

  2. jason

    July 24, 2021 at 10:55 am

    @Leo The idea is just for a combined Copa America/Gold Cup. Not talking about club competitions and such. Is a full 24 team tournament worse than the 10 team format with a meaningless group stage they just had? I think not.

  3. José Cerrato

    July 23, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    Ojalá que la próxima Copa América sea de 16 selecciones, 10 de Sudamérica y 6 de Concacaf.
    Cambiaron la música de presentación, ¿es temporal o permanente?

  4. Ra

    July 23, 2021 at 11:28 am

    @Leo I agree. There is no reason why Conmembol would do it. And truth is, Conmembol members and audiences in those countries couldn’t care less about Concafap. They don’t even bother broadcasting it. It is typical to think it would bring them money, but that is absolutely not the case.

  5. Leo

    July 23, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Why CONMEBOL would accept to play with CONCACAF teams? Where is the benefit on it for CONMEBOL? Even watching a friendly between, e.g., Ecuador-Chile is more interesting than any Gold Cup game (except maybe a final MEX-USA). At club level is even more unlikely. Distance from NY-Buenos Aires is much larger than NY-Paris… Impossible to play midweek games in Libertadores/Sudamericana without screwing calendars in South America.
    Would it be a economic benefit really? CONCACAF Champions league money pot prize is about 2 million USD. CONMEBOL Libertadores/Sudamericana money pot is more than 200 million USD a year.

  6. William Massie

    July 23, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Chris, fun convo as always…..

    Love the USMNT support and appreciate the foriegn exchange suggestion….

    But you know DAMN WELL no one in Comnebol would go for that..

  7. Ra

    July 23, 2021 at 10:02 am

    @Kartik I would love to hear your thoughts on the benefits and downsides of a Concafap/Conmembol merger for the different stakeholders as well as your view on salary caps.

  8. Roberto

    July 22, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    @RA Again it is hard to argue with the above. We do have to consider that world football is the main sport in all the areas you list. What seems to be the MLS model is building strong supporters, who come out to the games. Attendance in most cites has been going up yearly. From that local TV viewers and with a couple of teams getting known nationally, a possible increase of national viewers. There are just too many others sports on U.S. TV for the MLS to get the numbers you list above.

  9. Ra

    July 22, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    @Roberto I agree that the stadium and relocation thing so far has been more of an NFL/MHL/NBA thing but they operate in the very same model. At the moment MLS lacks leverage to do the same, but the writing is on the wall. If they were to do it today, most cities would laugh them off, but they would be able to pull it off were they ever be as mainstream as many hope.
    Ultimately, the salary caps reduce the appeal of MLS. For instance, I dislike PSG, but I will watch some matches to see Mbappe and Neymar in action. It is the main reason why EU soccer is the most-watched in the US and worldwide. La Liga would lose a lot of appeal without both Messi and C Ronaldo. Top players bring audiences and investments. I think it would have a bigger effect on MLS’ popularity and growth than having joint competitions with Conmembol.
    SA audiences will watch a SA match to see their team win and will watch EU tournaments to see top players play.
    I doubt MLS will ever be a major WW tournament without competing for top talent.
    Some figures for reference. MLS audience in the US: 250-300k/game. Brasileirao audience in Brazil: 44M/game average; total reach: 171M people. MLS TV rights: $90M (EN+ES combined), Brasileirao TV rights (in Brazil): $250M USD. It is hard to make the case that Concafap would bring money and audience.

  10. Roberto

    July 22, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    @Ra I agree with most of what you said. What I have trouble with is the reason for salary caps. I was a long time NASL Sounders season ticket holder. The MLS is very fearful of what happened to the NASL, that is spending so much money on players that the whole deal collapsed.
    You must be thinking of NFL for tax payer funded stadiums. Also the threats of moving teams and actually doing that several times when they do not get their way.
    The three new MLS stadiums were almost totally private funds. And only one team, an earlier San Jose team moved to Houston years ago, none since.

  11. Ra

    July 22, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    @Mercator. The real reason for the salary cap is to reduce keep costs low and improve margins for owners. It also results in a lack of top talent that would bring more audience to the league. I like the idea I heard here somewhere of having a “vanity tax” on over expenditures to benefit smaller clubs.
    It is interesting to see that the average value of a Brasileirao team is +50% than MLS. ($57M on average vs $39M). So they are already richer than their MLS counterparts:

  12. Ra

    July 22, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    @Roberto. I actually do; the same also applies to Serie A. My favorites leagues are Bundesliga and Brasileirao. I would like EPL to go to ESPN+ or Paramount+ to watch occasional matches, but at the moment I don’t watch any.
    But there are other issues that are more of an issue in North America:
    1. Salary cap – many argue that it is to have a level playing field, but it is actually to reduce operating costs and improve margins for owners. It also results in a lack of top talent that would bring more audience to the league.
    2. Taxpayer-paid stadiums. Owners get all profits and taxpayers foot the bill for new venues and improvements.
    3. Owners threaten to relocate teams to leverage negotiations with local governments. And in many sports, they actually do. Can you imagine any major team in EPL doing that?
    Clubs abroad are pressured to benefit local communities; here local communities are pressured to benefit franchisees.

  13. locofooty

    July 22, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    You want to upend CONMEBOL and change qualifications, continental tournaments in order to please CONCACAF and the “more teams is better” argument. Nice pipe dream. Thankfully, not gonna happen.

  14. Roberto

    July 22, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    @Ra Do you also have contempt for the EPL with their Oil Despot owners and Russian Oligarch with lots of dirty money. Both have Hedge fund owners that have made lots of money from doing nothing. Billionaire owners are just about all equally contemptible.

  15. Mercator

    July 22, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    @ Ra That should be an easy fix as well because there are way to many qualifying games. For example, the semifinalists (or finalists) in the confederation tournament (Copa, Euro, etc) should just auto qualify for the next World Cup. Hard to argue these 8-16 teams don’t deserve one of 48 places in the tournament. Now, instead of WCQ, you can have a 8-16 team tournament with the best 2-4 from each confederation in the summer before the WC. The rest can go through qualifying. Nations League should be the de facto qualifiers for the confederation tournament the next year. The international calendar has so many games that don’t matter, often because “competitive games” are in qualifying or tournaments which don’t really matter, like the entire Gold Cup or the Copa group stages.

    The MLS being salary capped is actually what makes a combined federation work from a club perspective. A few MLS teams, unrestricted, would be able to spend at a level no other team in a combined confederation could match. But with the salary cap, you put MLS teams more within the range of other clubs in the confederation. Sure, the main benefit for CONEMBOL is money, but it also gives clubs like Santos or River Plate a bigger tournament to compete in, win and gain exposure. I really do think there is a premium on European clubs, by players, investors ,and fans, in large part because they compete in Champions League. No one would care about PSG, for example, otherwise. I get Kartik’s point about emphasizing more than the money, but looking at the talent that comes out of CONEMBOL and then look at the confederation compared to UEFA… more money would improve the game in many of these countries and higher profile competitions would also be a greater incentive for investment and homegrown players to stay. UEFA is the center of the game and that shouldn’t be the case given the talent and history of some of these CONEMBOL nations, and that’s in large part because it’s a 10 country confederation with limited resources. Including the US and Mexico goes a long way to addressing that, and even from an on the field perspective, these are two countries that really should be more than competitive with the best of CONEMBOL.

  16. Ra

    July 22, 2021 at 10:58 am

    @Mercator. Good points, but at the end of the day, the potential benefit for Conmembol is (potentially) more money. I hear the same about teams in SA, they want to play more Europeans to see how they are measuring up. I never heard from the press there that they need to play more games vs Mexico or the USA. And then we are back to a 2-yr WC.

    Part of my bias against a combined tournament is that I have contempt for the MLS. They are a cartel owned by few individuals and the USL is relegated to a secondary role. They are now even launching a second division to have a 2-division cartel (

    I do not wish to see them in any SAs tournaments before the Concafap (MLS/MX) are reformed.

  17. Mercator

    July 22, 2021 at 10:15 am

    @ locofooty No, in fact, the current system enables FIFA corruption, and the purpose of merging the confederations would be to put an end to FIFA’s silly tinkering with the world cup, schedules and confederation tournaments. It makes no sense to have one federation with 10 members when others have 50+. It makes no sense to have a forgotten confederation somewhere in the pacific trying to stand equal with UEFA. Merge the confederations so we have 4 relatively equal conferences. This makes it easier to standardise the calendar, with a 48 team world cup every 4 years, and a 24 team confederation tournament every 4 years, with nations league (confederations tournament qualifying) and confederations league (world cup qualifying). This gives an easy standardised 4 with a marquee tournament every 2 years and a minor tournament (qualifying) every 2 years, each tournament being competitive and something meaningful to win every summer. It’s not fun watching endless Copa group matches against the same teams. It’s not fun watching the US and Mexico bring their B teams to destroy (or embarrass themselves against) some island of 100,000 people. Plus, bigger tournaments on a standardised schedule means teams and players take it more seriously, teams in Europe would have to release players for a combined COPA.

    @Ra It wouldn’t be immediately competitive but only 8 nations have won the world cup (5 Euro 3 SA). A combined confederation would have those 3 winners + USA and Mexico (big nations who have both underachieved for a long time, no doubt in part because they regularly play Trinidad instead of Chile). If Libertadores can get a bit more cache, I think it spurs investment into clubs in the Americas because they have a Champions League like tournament to win. Americas are big but actually are all on the same 3-4 timezones, Copa would monopolise a market of a billion people with some of the biggest, richest and most football mad markets in the world. CONEMBOL would get a much easier WC qualifying, with only the US and Mexico being at level above the worst CONEMBOL members, and would get access to the US and Mexican markets and money. Plus, I would expect CONMBOL nations and clubs to still be favourites to win any combined tournament, so they would be the primary beneficiaries of the increased stature and global presence of those tournaments.

  18. Ra

    July 22, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Another interesting fact is that since FIFA changed from International Cup (also known as European/South American Cup) to the Club World Cup in 2000, nobody outside of EU and SA won. Concafap looks at Conmbembol in a patronizing way and Conmembol has contempt for Concafap. So no, it won’t happen.
    And what would be the benefit for Conmembol? It won’t increase the quality of their product and audiences in North America are quite small compared to the rest of the world.

  19. locofooty

    July 22, 2021 at 9:30 am

    People wanting confederations to merge (especially conmebol/concacaf) are probably the ones that want a 48 team WC and/or a WC every 2 years. Ridiculous. As someone said, quantity does not equal quality. The WC used to be called the World Cup Finals. There is a purpose to WORLD CUP qualification and should keep a meaning. It’s part of the process.

  20. JP

    July 22, 2021 at 9:19 am

    All the comparisons to NHL extra time rules are not relevant. They only do the 3 v 3 gimmick during the regular season (followed by shootout if still tied). In the playoffs, which is most comparable to knock out rounds where draws in soccer are not possible, they play extra periods with a full lineup until someone scores. So if you really want soccer to mimic, that, it would be extra time with breaks between every 15-30 mins until there is the golden goal.
    I’d say right now the short ET following by PK’s if need be is just fine.

  21. Ra

    July 21, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    The issue here with PKs is that England lost. I did not hear any criticism before the final match. If England won, I would be hearing here how fantastic and thrilling the shootouts are.
    So the question you are trying to answer here is what format works best for England to win anything once for a change.

  22. greg

    July 21, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    One more thing…Chris, your issue with the shootout seems more about the application of the process – to settle regular season matches – than the thing itself. So put aside how it was used.

    What do you think of it as a means to settle knockout matches, as compared to PKs?

  23. Fechin Attuah

    July 21, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    Enjoyed the Euros. I think FIFA should combine the concacaf and conmebol confederations to make it into one big confederation since I would like more teams in these two competitions. UEFA can stay the same. CAF can stay the same since Africa has over 50 teams. AFL/OFC should combine into one confederation. It should be 4 confederations. But I would like to see especially both north and South America both combine to grow the game especially in North America. 14 for the concacaf and 10 for the conmebol to one big competition.

  24. Ra

    July 21, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    @Mercator I still don’t think adding Concafap to Conmembol would rival the Euros. The issue is quality and not quantity. We have just 3 successful WC winners in the Continent. Brazil (5) Argentina and Uruguay (2). Others haven’t even reached final yet.
    I can see why it would benefit Concafap members and clubs, but what would be the benefit to Conmembol members and clubs?
    Libertadores is good as it is, competition is tough and they don’t lack rivalries. I have been enjoying Libertadores this week. Much better than Olympics U23 or WNT.

  25. Mercator

    July 21, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    Another great one gents. I think Twellman is entertaining and generally pretty knowledgeable, but he does talk quite a lot and often with absolute certainty, so I can see how that is off-putting to some. I liked Twellman calling out the past few penalties – Stu Holden did this as well for a few of the ARG-COL PKs. It helps make PK seem less random and more a mental match, and allows you to appreciate some PKs more (like Maguire banging his in, despite usually missing in that location).

    PKs are still the best way to break a deadlock though. It’s not random its a mental game, so I think its a valid and fair way to decide an equal match. I think tournaments should do golden goal in ET – but PKs are traditional and the best alternative in theory would probably be the MLS shootout, and that wasn’t as good in practice as in theory. Besides, if we get rid of PKs England might actually win something, and no one wants that.

    FIFA is corrupt, but really there should just be 4 confederations. CONCACAF and CONEMBOL should be one confederation, and so should AFC and whatever New Zealand is in. Each confederation would now be roughly the same size, and each region would have a club and international tournament that in theory could rival the CL/Euros one day. US soccer should push more on this – the best thing for the MLS and for the USMNT would be to regularly play in libertadores and copa. It would also be much better for fans than playing Martinique v Suriname or watching the same 10 teams pay a million group stage games.

    I do think Qatar getting a world cup now makes every country, no matter how poor, backwards or tiny, think they are 12 years away from hosting a WC. No surprise they want it every 2 years, that’s twice as many dictators can pay up to host. They should give 30 to Argentina/Uruguay/Chile, 34 to Spain/Portugal and 38 to Britain, with Asian nations in 42 and 46 (China and Australia/India maybe) and African nations taking the next two after that if two suitable hosts can be found.

  26. Lee Gaucher

    July 21, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Let’s keep the the player rejigging to hockey, shall we? I follow the NHL as well and can tell you their silly 3v3 overtime is not a good representation of the sport. I know TV announcers (such as our buddy, Steve Cangialosi) like to scream in exaggerated excitement during 3v3, but I find it quite gimmicky and unpleasant to watch.

    One experiment I’d like to see in overtime football would be to not allow the goalie to use his hands in certain situations [high crosses, corner kicks, free kicks perhaps(?)]. I think we’d see quite a few interesting overtime periods.

  27. Ra

    July 21, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    @jason Copa America has tradition. It is the oldest still-running international football competition, as well as the third most-watched in the world.
    At the end of the day, you would have the same Argentina-Brazil final and for them to play vs the USA or Mexico hardly adds to their prestige. At the end of the day, the Euros are so popular because they are the World Cup minus Brazil and Argentina.

    I can see why it would benefit Concafap, I don’t see why it would benefit Conmembol.

  28. Ra

    July 21, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    I don’t dislike Twellman because he also comments on MLS games, but rather because he comments on EURO games AS IF they were MLS games. I watch a lot of European and South American games and I expect referees to call on fouls and punish infractions differently according to the tournament and culture.

    EU referees tend to let the game flow calling fewer fouls and allowing for more physical contact. Brasileirão referees fear losing control of the pitch and tend to call every single contact resulting in truncated games. In Libertadores, referees tend to call fewer fouls and players tend to be more cynical, resulting in some challenges that could be broadcasted by UFC instead.
    Watching Twellman comment, I had the impression that he judges referees and players by MLS standards rather than by each competition’s own standards.

    Another thing that infuriated me is that he does seem not to know when to shut up. I was hearing more from him as a co-commentator than from the commentator.
    ESPN had Mark Clattenburg comment specifically on the officiating, but Twellman kept going on about his opinion on the officiating. To his credit, he seemed to be doing better towards the end of the tournament, allowing more time for others to speak and being more concise.

    Sometimes less is more.

  29. jason

    July 21, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Note to World Soccer Talk…new opening theme stinks. Bring traditional one back.

  30. jason

    July 21, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    For the discussion about tie breakers between 38-40 minute mark of show. I suggest take a page from hockey. The extra time should be 10 v 10 or 9 v 9 for the 2nd 15 minute mark. If a team is a man down due to a red card earlier in the match…well too darn bad.

  31. jason

    July 21, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    @Rs 100% disgree with your comment. Wrong big time on that one. A 24 team Copa America would provide quite a bit of depth that is lacking in the two current regional tournaments that exists now. Euro 24 team tournamnent does not have 6 group of deaths either. That sounds like what you are looking for.

  32. greg

    July 21, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Good as always…though I think it’s unfair to categorize the dislike of Twellman to be because he’s American (there was lots of love for Kyle Martino, for instance). I got the sense from comments here that it’s because he talks too much and offers way too much info (much of it not really germane for the moment) when on co-comm. As you point out, he’s good in analysis. He’d be better at co-comms if he’d learn to let the game flow more and not interject with a 5 minute soliloquy all the time, often talking over good segments of play. Or he should stick to studio analysis. But that’s why I used the world feed audio on matches when he was in the booth.

    And speaking of stepping on important content…my dudes…the opening music needs to come down in volume by a factor of 10 when you guys start talking. You’ve long had it a bit loud when you do your intro, but this week it wasn’t a musical bed, it was a top sheet, duvet & pillow that muffled the first minute. Give that part of the mix a more critical ear before you hit the upload button.

  33. Ra

    July 21, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    I am not trying to be critical, but I don’t see why adding 13 teams from Concafap (more than conmembol’s 10) would add prestige. The match quality would actually decrease significantly.

  34. jason

    July 21, 2021 at 11:28 am

    This summer has taught us there MUST be a combined western hemisphere Copa America. It needs to be a 24 team tournament too. 10 COMENBOL teams + 13 CONCACAF teams. + 1 guest from either Africa, Asia, or Oceana…or a 14th concacaf squad.

    It is the only way you can get something that comes close to matching the Euros in attention in pregtiue. Euro 2020 blew away anything the smaller Copa and Gold cups.

  35. Chris Guardiano

    July 21, 2021 at 2:07 am

    Hi guys,
    When it comes to extra time, I love the format Kartik suggested in the pod. As a hockey fan in addition to soccer, that same format is used by the NHL for overtime games during the playoffs although the major disadvantage that is unique to hockey that soccer won’t likely have is that there is a 20 minute intermission between the extra time periods. If soccer can avoid that, then this format can be used successfully across multiple competitions and levels of the game.
    I have a question about the next MLS TV deal that begins in 2023. My question to either of you is: Who do you see as the main contenders for those rights given the limited budgets that a few companies have such as Fox & NBC? Thanks for all that both of you do

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