Today in class we discussed how FIFA, as a governing body where regular fans don’t really have any say in it (we can’t vote, for example), seems to control everything regarding the world of soccer. When discussing the 2022 Qatar World Cup, it looks like FIFA is forcing leagues to work around whichever schedule they decide for the tournament–winter or summer. Given this reality, it seems rather odd that privately owned clubs have to release their players, whom are employees of the team, so that the players can play for their National squad. If the 2022 World Cup were to happen in November-December, this would mean that clubs would lose their key players for many weeks of the season, since National squads have weeks of training prior to the start of the World Cup.
Many clubs also get frustrated when their own players get injured while playing for National squads. Such was the case last year with Daniel Sturridge, who got injured while training with England’s team and missed three weeks of season play with Liverpool. This event happened after both Liverpool and Sturridge informed Roy Hodgson, England’s manager, that the Liverpool striker needed at least two days of full recovery after a match before resuming practice. Instead, he was placed in a sprint training session less than 48 hours after an international friendly and injured his thigh muscles.
Instances like these make clubs very angry, as they are the ones who pay the ultimate price. National squads don’t provide insurance, and after a friendly match or tournament, the player goes back to being the club’s responsibility. But what good is he if he can’t play as a result of an injury that happened outside of the club’s control?
Perhaps the most frustrating news for clubs came this week, when Champions League contenders found out that they might lose their South American stars, were their team to reach the Champions League final. This year, the legendary match will occur on June 6th in Berlin’s Iconic OlympiaStadion. However, the 2015 Copa America in Chile will begin on June 11th, and FIFA is requiring that all players participating in the tournament be available by May 29th, two weeks before the start of the tournament. Given that after this date national squads have priority over all players, FIFA is recommending that European clubs begin to negotiate with national teams to allow their star players the ability to play on June 6th (if the club were to reach the final).
If no terms are reached (perhaps national teams want all their players available for pre-tournament training or don’t want players to be fatigued from playing the Champions League five days before the star of the tournament) and a team such as Barcelona were to reach the final, it would suffer a great loss, as Neymar, Messi, Dani Alves, Mascherano, and Bravo would be unavailable for said match. Not only that, but UEFA would also suffer a loss in terms of marketing, as fans are more likely to tune in and watch a game if it’s filled with internationally renowned players.
Only time will tell the future, but the lesson here is clear: once again, FIFA has exerted its dominion over everyone else (including UEFA), with no clear consequences on FIFA’s part. Can FIFA keep getting away with these kinds of actions?
As a side note, Suarez fans will be happy if Barcelona reaches the final, since he is still banned from biting Chiellini last summer and cannot play in the Copa America. Maybe it was all planned out? I’m sure he’s not too regretful of that now.