UCL SHOWINGS: HYPE IS KILLING ENGLISH FOOTBALL

Some specific labels define some football leagues. It is these labels that stand for what these leagues live for and how many a football aficionado sees them. Just as many will say, English premier league can be described as a league for all. I mean “All men are equal” football league. The Spanish La liga can be captioned a league of two strong men with another limping man (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico respectively). The German Bundesliga amounts a league of a productive man, a sterile man and many wives (Bayern, Dortmund and other teams respectively). Meanwhile, the French Ligue 1 is a league of clans and clowns. Simply put, the Italian Serie A can be said to be a league of a giant and many midgets (Juventus and other teams).

Not being mendacious, with the above illustration, one can say English football have edge over any other leagues in terms of competitiveness. But does that really make them the best league? Well, in contradictory to many people’s belief, I say utterly NO! English teams in continental tournaments are only another fashion of how the football world sees their league. They are strong, physical and competitive in league, whilst toothless, porous and underwhelming in European competitions. The so-called top teams in England may be the best as far as English football is concerned, but they are rather like a dog hunting mice, knowing that a lion (or perhaps lions) is ready to take it on as well.

Nonetheless, I snipe into English football shortcomings; I would take my time and hit on why many football fans have so much fallen in love with the league which has made it hard for them to believe there is another better league than EPL. Some of the positives that strongly hold EPL in contention for the best league include; the pace and physicality of the league, the fans, the TV coverage, the choking schedule and the league global reach. There is no doubt the physicality seen in EPL matches is second to none. The players have little or no affection for fun-fair or fun run style of play. This is one of the reasons why creativity dies off in their players. Likewise, their fans are high-spirited and full of intense zeal for the game. They don’t mind trodding through fire to watch their team play.

Also, on average, each EPL game has a global audience of 12.3 million views, according to FootballMarketing.com, which far surpasses La liga, Bundesliga and Serie A. The average audience of these other leagues added together does not even match that of EPL. La liga with 2.2 million, Bundesliga with 2 million and Serie A with 4.5 million. In the same vein, the worldwide access of EPL is atop any other league. You can travel deep to far-reaching places and people still see the necessity of hanging around screens just to watch English football. Its global reach is getting bigger, just as the world is.

The EPL choking match schedule should also be put into consideration. Perhaps, one can argue here that EPL jam-packed domestic fixtures and competitions result in fatigue for the players which may trigger under performance in continental competitions. To a certain extent, it is valid.

However, all the aforementioned attributes associated with EPL do not, yet make it the best, as to be considered the best, your influence and exploits in continental competitions should be staggering as well as the quality of players. Pep Guardiola when asked on his view regarding EPL being widely regarded as the best league in football was quoted as saying; “Here in EPL there are more games to play… but I think every league as its points, especially the quality of  players. Spanish teams are always in the final or winning European competitions because they have good players.” This poignant dig by Guardiola at English teams is a perfect riposte to be used against anyone promoting English football as everything about football.

English teams in recent times, have been clueless and fruitless in UEFA Champions. Despite the fact that an English team made it to the semi-final of UCL last season, low representation at the knock out stages of the competition shows how overhyped the league is. We have three Spanish teams and two from Germany among the last eight remaining in this year’s UCL. It is not only ludicrous, but also an abasement of the highly rated EPL standard to have a team dangling in the relegation zone as their “Lord” in the UCL after other big guns have been exited unceremoniously.

The truth is, the hype given to EPL football amounts to the one which makes Nigeria the giant of Africa. Real title, pseudo actions!

KEKEEREKUN VICTOR is a final year student of the Department of Special Education, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a lover of good music and a fanatical supporter of Real Madrid Football Club. He is at present the Editor of the Students’ Press Organisation in his Hall of Residence, Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall.

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