© Vincent Teeuwen (Flickr) UEFA laat de achtgrond in kleuren Europa League veranderen, mag wat ko
© Vincent Teeuwen (Flickr)
The UEFA Europa League, although a change in the name, is the same little brother of the UEFA Champions League it always has been. Despite the range of advantages the Europa League does offer participating teams, those that have missed out on a place in the tournament have not seemed to be troubled too much by the loss. The likes of Liverpool, who lost their battle to Tottenham Hotspur for a place in the 2011-2012 tournament, seemed mildly concerned. Fans have been saying: “I’d rather focus on winning the league than spending time in Europe.” And most fans are in agreement of this statement.
It is a tiring journey to the Europa League final as well as a challenging one; teams have to play a total of 15 games, excluding the possible qualifying rounds before this, starting as early as June every year – cutting summer holidays in half for some players. There were also some underlying thoughts that Fulham tried to throw their own Europa League place for the 2011-2012 season, offered to them by UEFA for fair play. On May 22nd 2011, the last day of the Premier League season, Fulham player Zoltan Gera put in a double-footed tackle that forced him to see red, posing threat to the club’s place. Many believe the tackle was deliberate, however doubts were waved immediately away when the Premier League confirmed that Fulham had claimed their place.
So are clubs really interested in the Europa League? According to UEFA, prize money for all participating clubs was increased for the 2010-2011 tournament, and could be subject to increases again. Is this a method of attracting clubs? FC Porto, who won 2011’s Europa League, could have made up to €6 million from the tournament overall. However, there is a “Champions League or broke” attitude that can be recognised at some clubs, as they believe that playing in the Europa League is just not worth the effort.