January 16, 2011
Posted: 1233 GMT
As you may have seen on CNN recently, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, joined the debate on which is the best league in the world when he told my colleague, Pedro Pinto, that Spain must hold that unofficial title because it provided the most players for the FIFA team of the year and because Spain won the World Cup with home-based players.
He further indicated that while the English Premier League is the best marketed league in the world, it does not, in his opinion, have the best players or play the best football.
Millions of football fans will be happy to agree with Blatter’s assessment, and millions more will disagree. However, the fact is that, at present, we have no quantifiable way of knowing which league is the best.
It’s all conjecture based on subjectivity or, in the case of choosing the FIFA XI, pseudo statistics since the make-up of the team was arrived at by way of a vote not any kind empirical data.
The “best league in the world” debate is one I’ve been hearing for more years than I care to recall. Is it Spain’s La Liga because Barcelona and Real Madrid are such good sides?
Is it Italy’s Serie-A because of the tactical nature of its football?
Is it England’s Premier League because there are literally no easy matches and because its clubs can afford to buy the best?
Is it in Argentina or Brazil as they produce and export so many quality players overseas?
The answer is always inconclusive because personal bias plays such a big part. But what if that was not the case? What if there was a way to prove which league is the best?
Well, I believe there is. How about FIFA scrapping the World Club Cup, which is a sham of a tournament in my view, and instead introducing a World League Cup to be played every four years in between FIFA World Cups.
Based on the same global combination of the FIFA World rankings and UEFA coefficient, which currently rank national teams and clubs, each league would be given a world ranking.
The top eight leagues on the list at a pre-determined cut-off point would become eligible to play in the World League Cup Finals.
Each league would then pick a representative squad selected from all the clubs within its association, with the stipulation that any player selected, regardless of his nationality, must have joined the league in the previous transfer window or earlier, and must have played at least 15 games in the league he is representing.
It might also be stipulated that no single club can provide more than five squad members, but that’s up for discussion.
The tournament itself would consist of two groups of four, with the composition of each group decided by seeding. After round-robin group play, the top-two finishers in each group would then enter the semis, with the winners of course going head-to-head in the final to decide the league champion of the world.
I see this as a huge attraction as it would mean the best players in the game competing together and against each other unencumbered by their nationality, which is more in keeping with the cosmopolitan nature of the game we watch each week.
It would also be a huge money-spinner for the competing leagues, with the revenue split equally between the clubs of the competing nations. And, of course, every four years it would put an end to the spurious claims of league supremacy by producing some tangible evidence.
What do you think?