My blogging may be a bit slow through July 11. But here’s Marcus Cole of Stanford Law on nationalism, labor mobility, international organizations, and football:

To the true football fan, the World Cup itself is part of an ideological struggle between two competing corporate goliaths, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) and the Union of European Football Associations (“UEFA”)…

FIFA represents the distinctly twentieth century notion that nationhood is the most important and powerful bond between humans. While nations are free to define themselves, individuals, for the most part, are not. FIFA insists upon a competition between nations qua nations, but FIFA does not demand that nations define themselves in a particular way…

UEFA also satisfies some of the thirst for nationalism, sponsoring its own competition between national teams every four years, the European Cup, in the interstices of the World Cup. But UEFA’s real claim to fame is its sponsorship of club competitions, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa Cup. These two competitions are between club teams, not nations. These clubs are organized, for the most part, on free association and freedom of contract…

FIFA and UEFA are openly critical of each other, and it is no secret that FIFA craves the power and success of UEFA. FIFA has tried to promote its own club competition, the World Club Cup, in which the winners of the various continental competitions around the world participate. This competition is largely ignored however, with virtually no television coverage, even in Europe. Instead, the real football world is focused annually on the Champions League, which every pre-eminent international footballer considers one of the two trophies he must hoist in a successful career. The other, of course, is FIFA’s World Cup.

But UEFA understands what FIFA does not, namely, that freedom works. National teams will never be as good, as entertaining, or as compelling as teams composed of free individuals willingly and contractually cooperating toward one common purpose. Open systems of nationality come closer to the ideal of freedom than closed systems, and the national teams themselves recognize this… The German national team boasts Cacau (a native of Brazil) and Jerome Boateng…

via IELP.

Update: Along related lines, see Emmanuel’s “German football as proof that migration works.”

5 thoughts on “UEFA vs FIFA

  1. Emmanuel

    I suppose that I’ll give Cole a break since he’s American, but his commentary is misinformed –

    (1) FIFA and UEFA bosses Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini both petitioned the European parliament to allow ‘6+5’ quota schemes that mandate clubs to start at least 6 players eligible to play for the national team. See EurActiv on this point.

    (2) Is Inter Milan the “Italian” champion when it was led by a Portugese coach and had no Italian starters? It seems to me that the appropriate laws that ought to be applied here are country of origin, not labour laws.

    I’ve written more on these points at greater length–hopefully without making simple factual errors!

  2. jdingel


    Doesn’t your second point underline the fact that the UEFA competition isn’t driven by nationalism? Inter isn’t a particularly “Italian” club at this point.

  3. Emmanuel

    JD–methinks it’s a truth in advertising exercise. If you look at the Inter Milan jersey, they do have the Italian flag on it.

    Also, if UEFA Champions League represents the best of various nations’ first divisions, then it should have competitors from the countries they represent. Otherwise, why not just abolish the pretence of having national competitions?

  4. Jonathan

    Localized competition as a pre-screening mechanism makes sense due to (1) transport costs and (2) the benefits of fostering local rivalries to increase fan interest. It’d be a bit silly to have Bayern flying to Milan one weekend and London the next.

  5. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink

    Inter have the badge of the Scudetto winner. The winner of the Coppa D’Italia has a roundel in the same colours.

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