UEFA Operating at the Height of Hypocrisy

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIApril 22, 2009

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JUNE 28: (L-R) William Gaillard, UEFA Director of Communications, President Michel Platini, General Secretary David Taylor and Martin Kallen, the Euro 2008 Chief Operations Officer are pictured during the UEFA EURO 2008 tournament review press conference at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 28, 2008 in Vienna, Austria. The UEFA EURO 2008 Final match will be played between Germany and Spain on June 29, 2008.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

This week, UEFA director of communications William Gaillard stated that the European governing body would not oppose a move for Scottish old firm giants Rangers and Celtic to join the Premier League.

This is, to be absolutely frank, an encouraging and solidifying statement. Scottish football, whilst not being seen as the butt of all jokes, is seen as something of an unremarkable league.

The reason for this is simple; it features two teams who duly dominate and will continue to dictate the proceedings in the foreseeable future.

Teams such as Hearts and Aberdeen match the class and quality of some English Premiership teams and on occasions can take the fight to the Old Firm in individual matches.

But their inferiority when it comes to funding, exposure, and resources means that they realistically never have any chance in attempting to challenge for the Scottish league title.

Their only occasional hope is the odd UEFA cup run and Scottish cup triumphs when the Old Firm cease to focus on their weaker objectives.

Many have pondered the thought of the inclusion of the Old Firm to the English Premier League. It would provide more of a stimulus for both Rangers and Celtic to produce a high standard of football. It could also force a separation of the "big four" and heat up the Premierships title fight, widening the possibilities of who the triumphant victor will become.

What is it at the moment that they Old Firm actually plays for, besides their definitive Old Firm rivalry? Do their predictable and effortless league and cup glories justify their existence? Such victories for them have become as easy as taking candy from a baby.

They will always enter qualification for the Champions League as a return for these obvious triumphs.

Predictably, however, and despite their greatest efforts they find themselves vying for UEFA cup glory at best, when they are deemed by their European counterparts as not quite the finished product.

Celtic and Rangers as we all know in their current structure will rarely be able to compete on a level playing field with the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona.

William Gaillard’s comments are then seemingly satisfying in producing a step forwards. However it is only in these recent opinions that UEFA appear to back the plan.

On various occasions in the past the UEFA governing body have proclaimed to be vehemently against the idea of Scottish teams joining the English league. And whilst Gaillard does proclaims his apparent approval of the transitional idea he does however state in addition UEFA’s exasperating ignorance of taking a position on the proposal.

The reason for this is clear; UEFA will not allow teams from one country to compete in a sister country's footballing league.

And this is where the height of hypocrisy falls into motion. If this is true, and cross country action is prohibited then how do you explain Cardiff City, Swansea, Wrexham, and Merthyr Tydfil—all Welsh teams competing in the English league’s tier system?

UEFA in proclaiming their stance against the Old Firm proposition have therefore allowed themselves to be portrayed as clumsy and contradictory.

Cardiff and Swansea in a Welsh league would actually portray a similar and if not greater dull domination of their country's league. If they were sent to the Welsh Premiership, other Welsh Premiership teams could not possibly compete with their country's largest populated city teams and would have to face the prospect of constant and demoralising thrashings.

The pattern would then reflect that of the Scottish Premiership. Teams such as Rhyl, Llanelli, and The New Saints would battle for third at best and unlike Hearts and Aberdeen would find no European qualification reward for their failings.

It is obvious where UEFA takes the credibility to ignore the Welsh teams from. The country itself has always been seen by xenophobic followers as a part of England as opposed to a country in its own right. The complete ignorance of Wales being "forgotten" on a recent updated map of Europe highlighted this tendency.

Yet this is the same governing body who recognises a Welsh national team who compete internationally in World Cup qualifying groups. They also recognise a Welsh national anthem, and therefore must also take the responsibility to recognise the Welsh language, Welsh history, and Wales’ interestingly unique geographical features. We all know much of Harry Potter’s charm is down to the beautiful landscapes of the Welsh valleys.

Wales is arguably more of a respected country than the likes of San Marino and Liechtenstein, mainly because a Welsh man is so easily defined by accent and culture.

So what must be questioned is how can UEFA aggressively stand by their comments that it is not their position to action such a transition, whilst not recognising the frustrating hypocrisy that this entails.

I do not expect any change in proceedings in the forthcoming seasons. Rangers and Celtic will continue to dominate their Premier League campaigns, and will continue to effortlessly gain Scottish cup wins and European qualifications.

UEFA in refusing to take a position are ultimately refusing to partake in their job—to govern European football.

Which is a shame, because the idea of competition requires the epitome of just that; a competition of such exciting and fierce nature that it enacts in spectators an empowering adrenaline rush.

This can never be achieved in the current Scottish league’s climate, and will never be achieved until major changes are made.


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