You see what I mean? You see why the football authorities can’t be allowed to run the sport on their own anymore?
As you are well aware, just a few weeks ago football faced an existential crisis thanks to the ugly, sporting abomination that was the European Super League.
Yet UEFA, the organisation whose reason for being was most threatened by this breakaway, has proved clueless and toothless when it comes to dealing with a blatant rebellion.
They had many options open to them by way of punishing the clubs involved but suspension from their competitions for a decent period of time was the one that would have sent the clearest message.
Instead, they have put together a package of punishments – specifically for those nine clubs that have since backed out – that has left them looking scared and weak.
Firstly, the clubs have agreed to sign a commitment not to be naughty again and, if they are, they will be fined €100 million each. Like that will stop them from joining a bazillion-euro ESL.
Secondly, the nine have agreed to make a €15 million donation to support children and grassroots football across the continent. That’s €15 million between all nine of them, by the way, not each. Roughly what the Glazers take out of Manchester United on an hourly basis.
The final punishment is that each of the nine clubs will forfeit a percentage of their UEFA earnings for one season in 2023-24.
Well, that last one will teach them a lesson, I hear you cry, hitting them where it hurts.
Actually, no it won’t, because it’s only five per cent of their earnings. Just five per cent. A mere financial flesh wound.
These powder puff punishments are precisely what I feared UEFA would dish out. The reality is this organisation is scared of these clubs; they are wary of their power and they are terrified of what their absence from the Champions League would do to its pulling power.
What punishment will [Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus] receive? A ban from selling pies at all Champions League matches?
So instead of clamping down hard and making a proper example out of the rebels, they have tip-toed around the issue in the hope that they don’t make the nine even more determined to leave.
It’s truly pathetic.
As for the remaining three who have refused to withdraw from the ESL – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus – well they will apparently be facing “appropriate action”.
What that’s going to be then? What punishment will these three jewels in UEFA’s crown receive? A ban from selling pies at all Champions League matches? Not being allowed to play the Champions League theme song before games?
The only consolation for this incredible display of passiveness by UEFA is that a large chunk of the clubs involved in the ESL project are in danger of missing out on next season’s Champions League anyway.
With just a few games to go in their domestic leagues, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Juventus are all struggling to make the cut.
In fact, those four are probably wishing UEFA had banned all 12 from the competition – it would have been less embarrassing…
That four-day social media boycott by clubs and players really did the trick, didn’t it? Just hours after the digital blackout came to an end the abuse kicked in again, and Raheem Sterling, among others, was getting racially targeted by idiots.
The organisers of the boycott claim it was a success. From what I am seeing and hearing it hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference.
I’ve said it before, but I will say it again: the only way social media companies will really sit up and take notice is if clubs and stars walk away permanently until such a time as the platforms are safe and clean.
Ajax show fans matter
You often hear the expression “this one is for the fans” used by clubs, managers and players after they win a significant game or capture a meaningful trophy.
Well, in the wake of their recent title triumph, Ajax have decided to take the expression quite literally.
Yep, the Dutch club, which has a rather impressive 35 titles to its name, has melted down their latest trophy and made it into thousands of tiny silver stars which will now be handed out to supporters.
Club director and former Manchester United legend Edwin van der Sar explained: “Previously when we said ‘this title is for you’, we were expressing how we were doing it for the fans; however, sharing the trophy is ultimate proof that we really are.”
Ajax’s 42,000 season ticket holders will each be given one of the stars, which I think is an absolutely delightful gesture after a messy, pandemic affected season.
The top teams in England should take note of how a proper football club treats their fans – not going behind their backs to satisfy their greed for money, but thinking about ways of making them feel they are truly important.
The Jonathan Chetcuti Program
Finally, just wanted to say a quick word about the new sporting project set up in memory of volleyball legend Jonathan Chetcuti who passed away a year ago.
The Jonathan Chetcuti Program is a sponsorship project created by Jon’s wife Elaine and his business partner and friend Jonathan Dalli aimed at giving young Maltese sportsmen and women the chance to fulfil their potential.
The first person to benefit from the scheme is young Richard Schultheis, a 15-year-old sailor who will receive two years of support as he works towards the 2024 Olympics.
I was lucky enough to know Jon personally and there is no greater way of paying tribute to his life than the creation of this programme. Apart from his family, there was nothing the man loved more than sport. Any sport and every sport.
That his legacy should be helping people achieve their sporting goals is absolutely brilliant and entirely fitting.
Good luck Richard, you’ve got a great mentor looking over you now.
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