32 teams are participating in the group stage of this season’s Champions League. Half are not champions. To help rich clubs get richer, UEFA rewards second, third, fourth and fifth placed clubs whilst denying access to those who have won their domestic championships. They argue that the runners up in a big league will always be better than the winner of a small one. That may be true but UEFA has a duty to support all member states.
Turkish football was regarded as inferior until 1989 when Galatasary reached the semi-finals of the European Cup. Thirteen years later Turkey finished third at the World Cup, proving that progress can be made when equal opportunities are provided.
In the European Cup, champions were drawn against each other at random and had to beat every opponent, over two legs, to progress. Cubs in the Champions League can afford to lose two, and sometimes three, of their group matches and still go through. Meanwhile they rest top players in domestic games, knowing that third place is good enough. It isn’t and falling viewing figures for the Champions League suggest that people prefer to watch winners compete against each other.