Source:ft.com

FIFA and Uefa Competition Changes: Good for the Game or just a Bad Look?

Football and money go hand in hand. We have just witnessed one of the biggest contracts not just in football but all of sports with Kylian Mpabbe signing a new contract at PSG. According to FootballToday.com, The Frenchman’s deal will reportedly earn him up to a million euros a week. The Frenchman will also earn around €100 million simply for renewing with the French team.

With the money in football growing and more clubs struggling to match the demands of the modern game, it isn’t a surprise that clubs, their owners and organisations are looking at new ways to bring in higher revenues. It, therefore, isn’t a surprise that incentives such as the Super League have come into existence.

With the demand for financial growth being at an all-time high, both FIFA and UEFA have changed the structure of some of their signature tournaments or are in high profile talks to make changes.

This article will explore these changes in more detail and analyse the financial impact that these changes have resulted in.

FIFA World Cup

Source:tod.tv

The upcoming World Cup in Qatar will be significant for a variety of reasons. Firstly this will be the first World Cup ever held in the Middle East, Qatar will be the smallest country to have ever hosted the tournament. This will also be the last time that the World Cup will be run in its existing format. By 2026, the tournament will expand from its current 32 team format and instead move to a 48 team event. The increase of teams will see more teams from across FIFA’s confederations compete in the tournament and we are highly likely to see teams who have never played at a World Cup before qualify.

The World Cup is FIFA’s golden goose. The tournament usually generates the organisation billions of dollars. With added teams, this means added matches which in turn will lead to added commercial and television revenues. With a tournament that is hosted only once every four years, it isn’t a surprise that FIFA wants to earn every penny it can, but the proposed changes have come in for serious criticism that the most prestigious tournament in football will become heavily watered down.

FIFA’s plans for the World Cup don’t stop there. With the need to create more revenue, FIFA is proposing moving the World Cup to every two years, rather than the four-year cycle it currently operates. It’s reported that moving the World Cup to every two years, could generate an additional 4 billion dollars per tournament. The move has met resistance, but it’s something that FIFA are evidently keen to impose.

The Champions League

Source:see.news.com

The jewel in UEFA’s crown is the Champions League and like their counterparts at FIFA, Europe’s major football tournament is changing.

The Champions League has become the lifeblood of many clubs around the world, with the vast riches it offers forming the basis of many clubs’ strategies. More clubs want a slice of the action and from 2024 the competition will change from 32 to 36 teams. The group stage will change and rather than eight groups of four, the competition will consist of just one big league table. Teams will go from playing six group matches to eight. After the group games, the top eight teams will qualify for the last sixteen, whereas the next sixteen clubs will compete in a playoff with the eight winners of those ties making up the draw for the last 16.

Much like the World Cup, the additional matches will see UEFA earn more revenue from commercial and television deals. However the organisation has come under scrutiny, with players playing more and more matches, UEFA has been accused of ignoring playing welfare and putting money ahead of it.

UEFA has also been accused by organisations such as the Football League. The expanded Champions League format will have an impact on domestic cups such as the League Cup. With sides preferring to play full-strength sides in Europe, the top sides are less likely to take competitions such as the League Cup seriously. For lower league clubs this will have a detrimental impact on their already squeezed finances as the revenues from these competitions are likely to decrease –  putting these clubs at real risk of going out of business.

Europa Conference League

Source:uefa.com

This month has seen the final of the Europa Conference League, a new tournament that has seen teams who have finished seventh in their domestic leagues play in a new European tournament. Clearly seen as yet another money-making initiative from UEFA, teams across Europe were in some cases actively trying to avoid participating in a tournament that they viewed as needless.

With the addition of more matches to an already packed schedule, the player welfare card was once again aimed at UEFA but the arguments fell on deaf ears.

There are some positives to the new tournament as teams who normally wouldn’t get the chance to compete in Europe were given a unique chance to not only compete but potentially win a major European title. However, with yet another competition diluting the standard of European football it just looks like another vehicle for UEFA to make even more money.

Football finds itself in a really difficult place. With the addition of essentially state-owned clubs – Manchester City, PSG and Newcastle all have a vast pool of resources that give them a competitive edge over their competitors. The playing field is getting more and more tilted and the game needs to be levelled up.

European and world football has never been in such a state of flux. Football is becoming tainted with accusations of greed starting to tarnish the game that millions love all around the world.

However, the rejigged tournaments and the addition of new tournaments are offering clubs and associations new vital avenues of resources.

The hope is that the world of football can continue to keep pace with the ever-increasing transfer fees and wages but it seems to be coming at a price. With more and more games seeming meaningless and just clear examples of money-grabbing, FIFA and UEFA need to find a delicate balance of keeping the money rolling in but the standards of the competition high.


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignpolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com