Where’s the anticipation for the Champions League Final?
The Champions League Final is arguably club football’s biggest annual tradition. Whoever wins the game rules is crowned Kings of Europe, and since Europe is home to the strongest football clubs in the world, the Champions League winner becomes the world’s best club for the next 12 months. It’s such a momentous occasion that’s always preceded by tons of hype, which is why it’s so interesting and peculiar that there’s barely any excitement for the game less than a week out. Well, it’s interesting and peculiar, but I don’t believe that it’s without reason.
This year’s Champions League Final will be contested between two English clubs: Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC. Now, while they’re both big clubs, they both lack something that Champions League finalists have always had before: history and tradition. You see, both Manchester City and Chelsea have only been good within the last 20 years. Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, bought Chelsea in 2003 while Sheikh Mansour, an Emirati politician, bought Manchester City in 2008. Both immediately funneled huge sums of money into their respective clubs, foregoing the construction of a legacy in favor of skirting Financial Fair Play rules in order to win.
While both clubs have huge fanbases, they are largely made up of what we like to call “fair weather fans,” or people who only cheer for the clubs at opportune times. A consequence of this is that they only cheer for the clubs when the clubs are playing and don’t tend to pay attention to them while they’re not. This explains the first reason: there aren’t enough fans of either clubs who are building up anticipation.
The second reason, I believe, is that the failed European Super League exposed the imperfection of Europe’s elite club competition, one that hasn’t been changed or updated in nearly three decades. While I’m not certain about this, I’m confident that some of the luster of the Champions League has been taken away after hearing about something that could be better. After all, people are always attracted to something that’s shiny and new.
I also believe that there’s a third reason, and it has to do with the shady business dealings of the two owners. Both Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour have broken UEFA rules in the past. Additionally, the excess amounts of money that both men pour into their clubs is seen as something that is ruining the sport, particularly English football. With that in mind, I believe that the British media is purposefully minimizing chatter about the game because they’re upset that two clubs built on oil money (because that’s how both Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour made their billions) are competing for European club football’s biggest prize. Whether this is petty or not remains to be seen, but I believe this to be true.
All in all, it’s disappointing that the biggest game of the European football season isn’t getting the publicity it normally gets, but there’s a few good reasons why.