Thursday, July 09, 2020
UEFA President - A simulation game
Congratulations, you have been named president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)! However, directly after your election a major problem has come up, which you will need to resolve. The Royal Spanish Football Association, pushed by the FC Barcelona, makes the following demands from the UEFA:
1) They want to leave the association, following the procedure foreseen for this case, and no longer pay membership fees.
2) After having left the UEFA, they still want to be able to participate in UEFA events, like the Champions League. They argue that not letting them participate would hurt the finances of the UEFA.
3) They want to be no longer follow the rules of the UEFA or any other soccer association. They don't want to be bound by the "Laws of the Game" association football rules, nor answer to any governing body that enforces these rules. They do however offer a non-binding general promise to "play nice".
So, you as UEFA president, what will you decide regarding these demands?
Let's have a look at these demands one by one. The first demand is a relatively easy one. Most associations other than the mafia have rules that allow a member to quit the association. You, as UEFA president, can't do much here, other than asking them whether they are really sure they want to leave. Emotionally a divorce is painful, but legally this is not really a problem.
The second demand is trickier. On the one side you could make a calculation of how much money the UEFA would gain if it let big non-member clubs like the FC Barcelona play, seeing how these clubs attract a lot of attention and TV money. On the other hand you need to consider how that decision would play with your still existing members. If they think they could all leave the association and retain all the benefits, you'd end up with no membership fees at all.
The third demand at first sounds tricky, but then very quickly becomes very clear when you consider the possible consequences. If you gave in to that demand, what would keep the FC Barcelona to turn up to the next UEFA Champions League game with 12 men on the field instead of 11? Association football, aka soccer, absolutely demands that everybody plays by the same rules, otherwise it wouldn't work at all. There is no way that you could allow them to play in UEFA games based on no more than a vague, non-legally binding promise, with no mechanism of dispute resolution.
So, what is your decision as UEFA president regarding the demands of the Royal Spanish Football Association? Did you make the right decision? Congratulations, you have won this simulation game. And, oh, by the way, you now also understand Brexit and can accurately predict what will happen on December 31st of this year.