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UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin hopes for federation-wide salary cap

The 55-year-old Slovenian, who is at the head of the richest international federation under the FIFA umbrella, hopes to restore competitive balance to football

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin has weighed in on the nature of football finances and the wealth that has flooded into the top echelons of the beautiful game in Europe and feels as though he is backing a solution that can restore competitive balance.

When sitting down with the popular independent media outlet Men In Blazers (during the same podcast that he revealed the likelihood of the United States hosting the finals of the Champions League in the future), the 55-year-old Slovenian, who is at the head of the richest international federation under the FIFA umbrella, backs the creation and implementation of a salary cap in order to focus on the top domestic and continental prizes in the game becoming accessible to more than just a few mega-rich clubs.

In the future, we have to seriously think about the salary cap. Because if the budgets go sky-high, then our competitive balance is a problem.

Surprisingly, everyone agrees. Big clubs, small clubs, state-owned clubs, billionaire-owned clubs…everybody agrees.

[Cont’d] I hope that it can be made as soon as possible. We just started to discuss about it, but I think that’s the solution.

On the surface, Čeferin is able to turn to North America as an example in this regard, with the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and MLS all sporting salary caps of varying degrees. On the back of that, hegemonic dominance has been very difficult to come by for all involved.

In the NBA, eight different teams have reached the finals during the post-season calendar in the last five years, with three different teams being crowned champions by the end of play.

When it comes to the NFL, seven different teams have reached the Super Bowl in the same five-year period, yielding four winners. That same dynamic existed in MLB across the last half-decade, with seven baseball clubs reaching the world series and a different winner being crowned each year.

The NHL continued the trend, featuring eight different teams in the last five Stanley Cup Finals, with four different winners come the end. MLS, too, can claim competitive parity, with eight different clubs reaching the finals and a different winner each of the last five years.

Given the talent on offer, a salary cap is a necessity given the limited number of teams in each league. Though UEFA boasts far more playing destinations just in the top five leagues alone, the reality has quickly become that the best and brightest footballers all want to go to the same locations. Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, and the big Italian trio all come in as the most desirable landing spots on account of their being able to afford high transfer fees and big wage packets, with others such as Arsenal, Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund, and Atlético Madrid also very much in the mix.

But the reality across all five leagues, and indeed the Champions League, is one that boasts anything but parity.

The same three clubs have exchanged finishing in the top three of the Premier League in the last five seasons, with City winning the league on four of those five occasions. La Liga is exclusively a shootout between Barcelona and Real Madrid – with a smattering of influence from Atlético Madrid – year after year for the last eighteen seasons, with the last league winner coming outside of that triumvirate being Valencia in 2003-04.

Things are even more dire in Germany and France, with Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain having a stranglehold on the Bundesliga and La Liga in a manner that appears set in stone. Bayern has topped the table each of the last ten seasons, while PSG has finished ahead of the pack on eight occasions in the last decade.

While it remains unclear whether or not a salary cap in football would only drive increased revenue straight into ownership pockets without a pathway to clubs and communities reaping any of the benefits, there certainly is a discussion to be had regarding the necessity to make on-pitch success accessible to more than those who are bankrolled by billionaires or nation-states.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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