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How Much Is Too Much?

Rupert Murdoch has a plan for a summer tournament. Why?

Jan Kruger

You like soccer. I like soccer. You like watching soccer, probably more than I do since I only really follow two teams with any real interest. But one of the other things I like very much is not watching soccer - I firmly believe that taking a break from something, soccer or otherwise, keeps your regard for that thing fresh, and I also believe that if you immerse yourself in your favorite thing 24/7/365, you'll get jaded, burnt out, and stop liking the thing. So I like the Premier League off season because there's no Arsenal games in it, and I like the MLS off season because it means I can take a break from the Timbers for a bit.

But at least for fans of major European teams, the idea of a break is fading fast. There already exist those dumb international tours that feature Europe's superstars jogging around MLS pitches at half speed after their season has just ended, or like Arsenal's upcoming Asian tour, and there are also things like the Emirates Cup which actually do serve a purpose as a pre-season training exercise.

But now Rupert Murdoch, the guy who invented soccer in 1992, has this great idea for a summer tournament, featuring Europe's top teams, played in the summer in venues all over the world. And when I say "great idea", I mean "shit idea", and here's a list of reasons why I think so:

1. Fixture congestion.
Teams already play for 10 months a year; why add another month to that?

2. This tournament would set up clashes with international soccer.
International tournaments already take place every other summer. Which means that top players on top teams who already play for nearly two consecutive calendar years during a World Cup/European Championship summer (one regular season, two weeks off, WC/EC, two weeks off, next regular season) won't have the second summer to recuperate, because their club team will be in this Murdoch Cup or whatever.

3. Grinding players into dust.
This would be due in large part to #2. Players are human, and they need time to rest and recuperate. I haven't done studies, but I'd be willing to bet that a player who plays regularly for his club and in WC/EC tournaments is much more injury-prone and less effective towards the end of the two-year cycle described above.

4. The sheer and utter burnout of being force-fed soccer 12 months a year.
Soccer is an amazingly fun game to watch. But watching it all the time will dull its amazement, for me - if I've already seen Bayern v. Barcelona or Real v. Arsenal in the Champions League, why would I want to watch that again in the summer, in a tournament invented for TV?

I firmly believe that, in sports, scarcity creates value. This is the opposite of scarcity - it's drinking from the firehose, it's only being considered because Murdoch needs a soccer property now that Sky has competition in England, and it adds nothing to the game overall except another fat pile of money. Which is of course why this whole thing is being considered in the first place.