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English football lacks the egalitarianism of American sport, but it has its commercialism

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News Tech: New Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly angered some of the most upset in English football last week by suggesting the Premier League could learn from the US and consider introducing an All-Star-style game. to increase television revenue. “American investment in English football is a clear and present danger to the pyramid and fabric of the game,” Gary Neville insisted on Twitter, in an iconic response. “They just don’t understand and think differently.”

But there is another irony here, and it deserves a closer look as European football sinks into a suicidal spiral of wage inflation, bailouts, spending and debt. Despite the record of ostentatious matches like Boehly’s North-South encounter, the American model of professional sports – in which spending is constrained by a salary cap, player purchases are controlled by pre-season drafts and marketing have to deal with a form of collectivism – giving leagues a way to live within their means while ensuring fair competition. Since the middle of the last century, the United States – the most capitalist society in the world – has developed an egalitarian structure in professional sports, even as its federations ruthlessly exploited every opportunity to turn the competition scene. sport for profit.

In response, many point out that professionals like Neville owe their livelihood to the Americanization of English football: without the influence of the American example, the entire modern English Premier League – as a business. structured around major TV deals, as a continuum. public spectacle, as a form of cultural hegemony – would not exist. Proposals like Boehly’s aim to further commercialize English football; it is not “thinking differently”, but the essence of the sport as it has evolved over the past three decades.

England – in football at least – has gone in a different, commercialist direction without integrating American-style constraints to ensure fair competition at the highest levels of sport. The rather spectacular cultural inversion is the result of this difference. America – the land of 24-hour duty, calorie overload and ten thousand dollars worth of ER visits – is now a paradise for sports equality, a country that has seen 12 different winners in The last 15 Super Bowl tournaments. During the same period, England – the birthplace of socialized medicine, local pubs and green villages – became a footballing oligarch, with only five different clubs winning the Premier League. While a competitive balance is key to preserving the ‘pyramid and structure’ of English and European football, it certainly is, the Old World has much to learn from the New – a key point. UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin, a consistent but unsuccessful advocate for Europe-wide salary cap, is admitted.

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