How Much Is The Soccer World Cup Trophy Worth Money Speaks Volumes

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Money Speaks Volumes

The European Cup or UEFA Champions League, as it is now known, is a cash cow that shuts out all other Cup competitions in the world in terms of money. The revamped trophy is expected to generate 750 million Euros (£502 million) gross this season. But is UEFA’s flagship competition killing domestic Cups and the UEFA Cup?

This season UEFA is set to earn over €750m (£502m) from the Champions League, with TV rights being sold to 230 markets (with Italy’s RAI and Spain’s Antenna networks signing up for the first time) and also from their commercial partners. UEFA have also increased the number of their official commercial partners from four to six as Vodafone and Sony join PlayStation, Ford, Heineken and MasterCard.

If you look into how UEFA distributes the money from the Champions League, you will discover why the competition is so attractive to the hundreds of clubs who compete for qualification for the tournament every season.

This season UEFA has promised to distribute up to 530m Euros between the 32 clubs that qualified for the group stages. There is a minimum of 4.4m Euros just for being in the group stage, with a further 600,000 Euros at stake for each game and 300,000 Euros each for a draw.

Another 10.5m Euros will be distributed to clubs that have been eliminated in the qualifiers, such as Linfield from Northern Ireland. The amount they will receive is peanuts for some clubs (such as La Liga, Serie A etc.), but for a club the size of Linfields it is a small windfall.

Going back to the group stages – clubs that qualify for the last 16 get another 2.2m Euros and another 2.5m Euros for reaching the quarter-finals. Clubs that reach the semi-finals win another 3m Euros and if they win the trophy they win 7m Euros or 4m Euros for losing.

The Champions League with all its financial benefits has become a prominent feature in football as clubs race for the qualifying places in their domestic league. This is because they believe that the financial rewards are more important than winning silverware.

Take Italian Serie A club Palermo for example, their chairman, Maurizio Zamparini, has stated on several occasions this season that the UEFA Cup is secondary to qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

He wants the club to take advantage of the fact that Juventus and AC Milan are not claiming the top four in Serie A (due to a match-fixing scandal this summer) and sees this as an ideal opportunity for his club to finish in the top four

Because Zamparini has placed Champions League qualification above all else, Palermo have been playing second team in the UEFA Cup this season (further devaluing the competition in some people’s eyes).

Other Italian Serie A clubs take a similar approach to the Copa De Italia and play second tier teams. This is also the case in Spain when some La Liga clubs adopt the same approach in the Copa Del Rey.

In England the League Cup is seen as something that draws the attention of many Premier League clubs who have ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League. This has led (over the last ten years) to a number of top tier clubs playing their reserves in the competition.

At first, this approach was mainly adopted by Premier League clubs (mainly Manchester United and Arsenal), but some Championship teams have taken the lead this season (Birmingham City is a prime example).

Managers will claim this is to give experience to fringe/youth players but commentators have suggested this is to keep players fresh for important league games in the race for European qualifications.

There are even some suggestions that the FA Cup is going to follow the same path as the League Cup, as the trophy in the eyes of some Premier League clubs is not worth the trouble. A club can expect to receive £3m if they lift the trophy and in terms of Champions League qualification the prize money is not worth it.

If a manager had a midweek Cup semi-final tie and an important weekend fixture against a key rival in European qualification, what would his priorities be? On the one hand he has a Cup game which could win £3m prize money (should they lift the trophy after reaching the final) and on the other hand a game which could see them confirm Champions League qualification and netting £10m.

It is sad to say that the majority of the big European clubs are starting to put money in front of silverware. They would prefer to qualify for the Champions League at the expense of winning a domestic Cup.

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