Coronavirus pause could force world football to change
PARIS: Football has been stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the immediate concern is the simple survival of many clubs due to the financial impact, but there is hope that the global game may finally come out of this crisis better.
We are experiencing something that neither of us were used to and that will profoundly change us, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti told Corriere dello Sport.
Since World War II, sport has not been forced to stop in Europe. The sudden interruption has exposed the deficiencies of a system intoxicated by huge sums of money.
Cuts are inevitable in the short term.
Television money will decrease, players and coaches will earn less. Tickets will cost less because people will have less money. The economy will be different and so will soccer. Maybe it's better, said Ancelotti.
"As with most things, crisis is an opportunity," football historian and academic David Goldblatt, author of recent book The Age of Football , told AFP, before sounding a warning.
It could really get worse. For there to be real change there has to be a change in the way power and property are distributed in the game.
At the moment, financial power belongs to the lucky few at the top, but even they are being hurt. That is likely to affect the transfer market, and the large amount of player spending could become a thing of the past.
In two or three years, it will not be possible to spend the amounts that we have been seeing because all the countries will be affected. In all likelihood, a new footballing world will emerge from this, insisted former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness.
Players from Barcelona, the world's richest club, have agreed to a 70 percent pay cut. Clubs across Europe are taking similar steps.
It is evidence that clubs, even the elite, have been living on the edge, and raises the question of whether salary caps could finally be seen as a way forward, despite the difficulties presented by EU rules.
In Germany, the four representatives of the Bundesliga Champions League this season have pledged 20 million euros ($ 22 million) to help clubs affected by the crisis in an encouraging sign of solidarity.
In the meantime, lessons can also be learned about how television revenue is distributed in the future.
It may also be time to rework the accessory calendar. The craze for expanding existing tournaments, such as hosting a 48-team World Cup and a 24-team Club World Cup, is surely not sustainable.
It is time for us to find some rules to say well, let's get out of this crisis as best we can, but also put in place security measures to manage the weight of the players successfully, warned Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, secretary general of the world players union FIFPro, as it called for a much healthier setup than we've had lately.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has recognized the calls for change and told La Gazzetta dello Sport that perhaps we can reform world football by taking a step back. With different formats. Fewer tournaments, perhaps fewer teams, but more balanced.
Goldblatt, meanwhile, believes FIFA need to look again at plans to stage a 48-team World Cup in 2026 all across North America.
That, and the European Championship that UEFA intends to host in 12 cities across the continent, are being planned in a way that appears to be at odds with the need to confront another looming threat: climate change.
If we've learned anything from the past few months, it's that we should listen to scientists, Goldblatt says. We need to hit the pause button on all this and have a massive rethink.