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UEFA Champions League

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin open to playing Champions League final in New York

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The UEFA Champions League final is one of the biggest games in soccer each and every year and, according to UEFA’s new president, it could be coming stateside.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says that he’s open to hosting UCL finales outside of Europe, including in New York. Ceferin says he is he is hoping to revive an open bidding process for the rights to host the UCL final. Currently, UEFA leadership selects finale locations for both the UCL and Europa League, but Ceferin’s aim is to make the process more transparent for all involved.

“I think it might be an idea in future but we have to speak about it,” Ceferin told the Associated Press.”To go from Portugal to Azerbaijan for example is almost the same or the same as if you go to New York. For the fans it’s no problem but we should see. It’s a European competition so let’s think about it.”

“The bidding process should be very clear because if you get the Champions League finals or Europa league finals as a political favor then it’s not OK,” Ceferin added. “With a clear bidding procedure I will protect also the administration and myself because whoever tries to call us, to push us, to ask us for such a favor we will have a clear answer, ‘Sorry there are clear rules we cannot do it.'”

In addition, Ceferin says that UEFA is looking into how to make games more convenient to watch for fans across the world, including in China, where games are broadcast in the early morning. One option includes moving the semifinal round to weekends, although Ceferin says there is nothing “concrete” as UEFA assesses how to avoid disturbing domestic leagues.

The UCL, which Ceferin called the “best sporting product in the world,” returns Nov. 4 for the fourth matches of the group stage.

14 comments
  • TheFrenchOne

    You read this and last week’s report about Conmebol considering a final in Miami, and you think to yourself, “The only people in the world who aren’t completely sold on the idea of soccer in America are Americans.”

    I know the base has grown over the past 20 years but, man, how does the average American not see the potential (financial and/or athletic) for growth in this country? Do the Big Three sports have such a stranglehold on the sports purse that the money people don’t see they could really clean up with soccer, considering how diverse our country?

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    • Old School

      Unfortunately, I see it as being very simple: MLS isn’t very compelling.

      There’s definitely merit to the struggle any league would face against the domestic institutions of football, baseball and basketball. Though, I still think hockey is capable of being over-passed at some point in the near future.

      I don’t think the parity system benefits the league as a whole. I completely understand the perspective from the NFL, but I think “super teams” or “super clubs” are good to create the David vs Goliath. Leicester City’s story last year was one of the best sports stories period in recent history. That is only possible with the David vs Goliath dynamics.

      MLS has far too many David’s and that may prove to be too boring for the knowledgeable fan of the sport and too boring for the new fan of the sport. There’s no denying there’s a sleeping beast of fervor for the sport in this country (see every league and nation trying to cash in with the States), but there’s an obvious disconnect with our league.

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    • Adam M.

      I don’t agree with your premise. Lots of people see the potential, and many have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in that potential in things like franchise fees, stadiums and high-profile players. Game attendance is already roughly on par with basketball and hockey (and baseball in a few cities). And there is no question that the US is an attractive destination for millionaire athletes. The problem is tv, which is the far and away the major source of revenue for every sport. MLS is coming of age when fewer people are watching tv in general. Even the NFL’s ratings are down. The poor ratings hurt MLS’ ability to grow into a league that can compete for players the way the top leagues do in Europe. This is a serious challenge and there isn’t an easy solution. No other major sport in the US faces this problem — or the problem of having better foreign competitor leagues on US tv all the time. As for the US hosting foreign competitions, my view is that anything that increases US eyes on the game is a net good for the long term viability of the sport in the US. Most of Europe doesn’t live in the handful of cities that might produce a Champions League winner, but they support local clubs regardless. The MLS may not get to the top of the mountain soon, but it should be able to do very well as it continues to enmesh itself into our sporting culture.

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    • Lost in Space

      The US and MLS have made huge strides in this sport over the last 20 years, but we are still far behind other countries & leagues. The greatest differences between the US system(s) and those in other countries are as follows:
      1) Salaries. The average MLS salary is still half that of the average salaries in other nations 2nd tier leagues (English Championship, Bundasliga 2, etc….). Until our average salary is equal to that of the 2nd tier in Europe it’ll be hard to attract and/or retain the number of quality players teams need to be truly competitive, and attractive to watch.
      2) Player development. Most MLS clubs have only had academy teams for the past 5 years or so. Add that these academies generally start at the U-16 age group and it becomes clear we are not producing enough organic talent to feed & improve the expanding league.
      3) Coaching. There are too few quality coaches in the US. People who have grown up playing the game at a high level that can/will pass on their knowledge to the next generation. I’m not limiting this to MLS….because the greatest impact to player development begins when players are learning the fundamentals. How to trap, pass & shoot, how to read the field in order to know where to position themselves, know how to adjust on the fly to what is happening in a game. These types of things are best taught as young as possible. And that requires a large number of quality coaches throughout the country.

      Things are improving…but we still have a long ways to go.

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    • UclaBruinGreat

      Adam M is on point. TV is the issue but the rest of you bring up good points as to why tv viewership is low. The most obvious are:

      1. In the U.S. people like us are a small minority. Very small. Sure there are lots of people that like soccer, but how many of those are like us in that we are American born and raised, grew up in the American sports culture and still are highly interested and passionate about US Soccer (USMNT and MLS)? Very very few. Most Americans (especially White/Gringos) not only aren’t interested in soccer but many even feel the need to put it down and make fun of it. Soccer becoming bigger here is still a generation away atleast.

      2. NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL are the big boys in the whole world in their respective sports. That’s where the best players play and are the biggest, most high profile leagues. Obviously not the case with MLS.

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      • CU24

        You know there are millions of second and third generation Americans that grew up in a soccer household, so I don’t necessarily agree with your minority comment. The problem is that both US soccer and MLS have done a terrible job in attracting that group of people, all you need to look at how well the Copa America Centenario sold and the ICC. Soccer is easily a top 3 sport in this country, it’s just that many people have been either disenfranchised or have been put off by the low quality of the product.

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      • UclaBruinGreat

        CU24 you can disagree but you would be wrong. I clearly said that there are many people that like soccer (the group you mentioned) but that group needs to be classified differently.

        “You know there are millions of second and third generation Americans that grew up in a soccer household”

        Yes you are right about that, but the vast majority of those people follow the national team and leagues of their ancestors, or follow European football. That’s why LigaMex tv ratings here in the U.S. destroy MLS. Same with EPL. European club friendlies here get massive attendance. Mexico and South American national teams come here to play their games. How much does that translate to US Soccer and MLS viewership? Not very much at all. As I said, vast majority of Whites (which are the most likely to root for U.S. Soccer and MLS because they don’t have recent ties to another country) don’t like Soccer.

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      • fast right leg

        My support of US Soccer has very little to do with feeling no ties to other nations, nor is it a function of my “whiteness”. My support of US Soccer is derived from my geography. I was born and live in the US, so I support the US. I think anyone else in my situation should do the same, whether they’re first generation or their ancestor’s land was stolen twenty generations ago.

        I’ve got German family (military grandfather, Bavarian grandmother), my mom was raised there, and I’ve been there a few times; so I want Germany to win every game they aren’t playing against the US, but it’s only for a love of the game. The passion is not there because it’s not where my identity is. I was raised in the US, and though we had pictures and artifacts from our German side, our day to day lives were 100% American. So when the US scores and I scream and yell and dance. Germany scores and I crack a smile in appreciation. I don’t do the double jersey thing. I don’t update my facebook with pro-German stuff during tournaments. Though I know so many people who do the opposite. They’re “Merica” as it gets and yet they still put their frontrunner nation ahead of their home country. It seems disingenuous to me. I have a friend who “bleeds” the sky blue of Argentina despite being white as a snowflake because he lived there for TWO YEARS after college, but he barely talks about world cup qualifying in the US and says he’s never watched Gold Cup because Argentina isn’t in it.

        MLS is different for me. Being in the southeast I haven’t had a geographic tie to the league, only to semi-pro soccer which, despite my love of the game, I can’t really stand to watch. Now that Atlanta is getting an expansion slot, that’s gonna change. Up to now my only tie to club soccer was to watch Americans play. I’m not a BVB fan, but I’ve been watching their games religiously because of CP. But when they pull him out of the game, I immediately go to either not caring or hoping they allow a bunch of goals.

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    • fast right leg

      The game doesn’t need more popularity in the US. It’s plenty popular. The problem is economic.

      The other major sports are entrenched and the product on the field is clearly the best. The NFL is the only true professional gridiron football league in the world, so there is no contest from without (the NFL’s only competition for popularity is the NCAA which is a farm system for future NFL players). The MLB is easily at the pinnacle of baseball despite the fact that the best players come from outside the US. Leagues in Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, etc are seen as nothing more than stepping stones to “the show”. The NBA is the same. Many countries from South America to Europe and Asia have pro basketball leagues and players in those leagues dream of making the NBA.

      So why are these leagues considered global destinations and why do they carry such popularity? Because people know they’re seeing the best product available, and in turn they spend to watch so that the leagues can continue to attract the best athletes leading to the best entertainment value in the market. Soccer for a start does not attract the best athletes because the best athletes follow the money. The money doesn’t come pouring in because the people know they’re being asked to pay their money, in essence their time and energy, into a fourth rate product.

      Soccer is immensely popular in Brazil and the league never struggles for attendance or wants for passion. All the history and prestige is there and all the best athletes aspire to play soccer. And yet, the best players still leave because Europe is the destination and it’s where the most money is invested and generated. It has very little to do with how popular the game is in a given country. Examples abound here at home: when the best teams come to the biggest stadiums they have no trouble selling five times the tickets as a typical MLS clash.

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      • CU24

        You had me all the way until your best athletes comment. A great athlete doesn’t necessarily make a great soccer player, and great soccer player is not necessarily a great athlete. Just look at the 2010 Spain team, no one in that team would have been confused as a physical specimen but yet many consider them to be the greatest team to ever play the game. I agree that the problem for MLS in this country is the international competition it faces and the horrible job is has done to attract those “eurosnobs”, not that “our best athletes” play other sports.

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  • BombVoyage

    Well, there will never be an MLS Cup final in New York (Red or Blue) so this will have to suffice.

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  • dUDERINHO

    having Liga MX games on OTA channels is a big reason why ratings for Liga MX are high

    its my biggest gripe with MLS. in LA alone i can find more Liga MX games on OTA three games at once sometimes. LA Galaxy Games, unless im paying for overpriced cable not happening.

    Like

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