Globalization and advances in technology are often portrayed in negative terms these days. The opportunities they provide for some are obstacles for others.
The expansion into new markets
-- namely, the United States, China and other Asian countries -- has provided new opportunities for Europe's elite, the EPL clubs, and clubs like Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
New UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin
is concerned, though, that the gap between Europe's richest clubs and their competitors is getting too wide and says changes might have to be made to
restrain spending, limit squad sizes and change transfer rules.
“The great opportunities brought by technology giving access to everyone, anywhere, at any time, on a scale
unimaginable 10 years ago and with interaction not fathomed five years ago, can also bring dangers if we are not careful," Ceferin said on Wednesday. "UEFA needs to be prepared to appropriately tackle
relevant issues such as the decrease in competitive balance within European club competitions and secondary effects affecting domestic competitions.”
Ceferin was elected with
support from smaller European federations whose top clubs can no longer compete with the top clubs in Europe.
“The increasing gap between some of us can be accelerated by
globalization and technological change,” he said. “We cannot allow the greatness of some to overshadow and drown out the rest. If we allow gaps to become too great we will be neglecting
those who have little opportunities. We face a threat that the bottom becomes unstable because the rest of the world is focused on the top.”
Until now, the steps UEFA has taken
against teams for excessive spending related to just that -- teams backed by wealthy businessmen who were spending more than they brought in from ticket sales, television and other commercial deals.
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain -- both backed by Gulf money -- were hit with fines and a reduction in squad restrictions.
New restrictions such as a luxury tax would penalize
teams for spending above certain limits, regardless of their losses. (Both MLB and the NBA have luxury taxes.) Ceferin said UEFA would also have to consider "squad limitations and fair transfer rules
to avoid player hoarding and the excessive concentration of talent within a few teams."
One area of concern is the hoarding of talent. Chelsea, first in the English Premier League, has 36
players -- many of them internationals -- on loan. By distributing them across clubs in Europe -- some big and some small -- it effectively reduces the pool of talent available to its competition.
Only once in the last 20 years has a team from outside Europe's big four leagues reached the UEFA Champions League final. Portugal's Porto beat France's Monaco, 3-0, in 2004.
The days of a Portuguese team like Porto or Benfica or a Dutch team like Ajax or PSV winning the Champions League are long over. Monaco is in the quarterfinals of this year's Champions League, but few
give it a chance of winning.