Why Did UEFA Abolish The Cup Winners` Cup?

04/11/2016 09:23

Why Did UEFA Abolish The Cup Winners` Cup?

Manchester United won the European Cup Winners` Cup for the only time in the club`s history in 1991 after qualifying in a difficult competition, the F.A. Cup, which had been a model for similar cup competitions throughout the world since its inception in 1871-2 based on the perceived need for a national cup competition. The Manchester Senior Cup, which the `red devils` of United have won on 33 occasions since their days as `the heathens` of Newton Heath, LYR, won the first trophy of United`s history in 1886, 2-1, against Manchester, was won more recently in 2013-14 against Manchester Ciry, 4-1, with four goals from center forward, James Wilson, and such cup competitions proliferated in the wake of the inauguration of the national competition, the 1871-2 F.A. Cup, because the nature of the cup format is as a defining instrument.

 Manchester United are record holding winners of the F.A. Cup on 12 occasions with the first being in 1908-09, 1-0, against Bristol City, with a goal from Sandy Turnbull. Although after winning the 1990 F.A. Cup Final replay subsequent to a 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace, 1-0, with a goal from marauding left full back, Lee Martin, United went on to win the European Cup WInners Cup (ECWC) in 1991 against Spain`s F.C. Barcelona, 2-1, with goals from Welsh center forward, Mark Hughes, UEFA had abolished the ECWC in 1999, so United`s 2015-16 typically swashbuckling defeat of Palace, 2-1, with goals from Spain`s right midfielder Juan Mata in the 81st minute, when the team were, 0-1, and an extra time strike in the 110th minute from England left winger, Jessie Lingard, didn`t present an opportunity for the team to use the cup format as an instrument to further definition. In 1999, which was the year that Manchester United, as holders of the European Cup, beating Germany`s Bayern Munich, 2-1, with injury time goals from forwards, England`s Teddy Sheringham and Norway`s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, qualified through that defining instrument to play the Final of the Intercontinental Cup against Palmeiras of Brazil, which they won thanks to a strike from Irish midfield captain, Roy Keane, who guided a cross from Welsh left winger, Ryan Giggs, into the net at the far post in the 35th minute, 1-0. It was a `defining moment` for that cup competition, because United qualified for the inagural World Club Cup through winning the Intercontinental Cup, and eventually won the World Club Cup in 2008.

 Manchester United qualified for the WCC Finals through the defining instrument of the European Cup competition. United beat Chelsea on penalties in the Final, 6-5, after the game had ended, 1-1. A 26th minute header from Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a left footed cross out on the right wing by United right back, Wes Brown, had been cancelled out just before half-time by Chelsea`s England goal scoring midfielder, Frank Lampard. When Chelsea`s captain and center back, England`s John Terry, slipped in the rain at Moscow`s Luzhniki stadium and hit the post when he had to score to win the European Cup for Chelsea, Ryan Giggs stepped up to take the crown for United. Consequently, Manchester United would have qualified for the Intercontinental Cup (IC) Final between the champions of South America, LDU Quito, who`d won the Copa Libertadores, `freedom`s cup`, but FIFA had abolished it, as UEFA had abolished that other defining instrument, the ECWC, won by United in 1991. In short, two of the trophies constituting defining instruments won by United were abolished in quick succession to prevent the club from reaching a higher definition in world soccer terms. Or, in other words, because cup competitions define champions on a continent wide scale, UEFA abolished the ECWC, and FIFA abolished the IC, to prevent clubs from defining themselves as continental and, ultimately, world champions.

 Although the World Club Cup Finals of 2008 looked more egalitarian and Manchester United had to defeat the Japanese team, Gamba Osaka, 5-3, to meet the winners of the other qualifying semi-final, LDU Quito of Ecuador, who were South American champions after winning the Copa Libertadores, as United were European Champions, and so the predicable Finalists made it through, in fact the abolition of the ECWC and the IC were symptomatic of an attempt by the Europeans to establish a totalitarian soccer dictatorship preventing European clubs from forming a world league with the South American Copa Libertadores as a South American championship cornerstone of an establishable format including the championships of Asia, Africa, and North America. In simple terms, a world league would contain five continents, that is, Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia, which of course looks the weakest, but nevertheless is a logical soccer unity incorporable into a global structure for defining champions through cup competition success, which is in realistic terms the only possible format for determining continental championships. Otherwise the bizarre spectre appears of Spain`s Real Madrid as champions of China and Australia, or of Italy`s Juventus as champions of Australia, which was the result of the Intercontinental Champions Cup (ICC) format in which clubs competed for the championship of North America and Europe, China, and Australia.

 Manchester United won the ICC in 2013-14 against Liverpool, 3-1, but in 2014-15, and 2015-16, the championships of China and Australia were included in the ICC format, and Spain`s Real Madrid won both, while Italy`s Juventus won the Australian ICC championship in 2015-16. In a league format in which Spain`s Atlético Madrid played one and won one against England`s Tottenham Hotspur, who went on to lose a second game to Juvntus, while Atlético had used up their allotted quota of a single game, Juventus in their second game played against Melbourne Victory of Australia, who were also allowed only one game in the league table, and Juventus won, 4-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw in normal time. In short, Juventus had two games in which to win the Australian championship, and the Australian team had just one, so couldn`t compete. When Spain`s Real Madrid won the China ICC in 2014-15 against England`s Manchester City and Roma of Italy, there weren`t any teams from China, and Real Madrid were also allowed to compete in the Australian ICC in 2014-15 against Italy`s Inter and A.C. Milan, which Madrid won, so becoming champions of China and Australia in the absence of those countries` national champions.

 The World Club Cup affords the possibility of genuine competition, before what effectively remains the de facto Intercontinental Cup (IC) encounter between the champions of South America, by virtue of that team`s winning the Copa Libertadores, for example, Ecuador`s LDU Quito in 2008, and the champions of Europe, that is, Manchester United, who though having to take part in the apparently staged formality of a 2008 semi-final against the Japanese champions of Asia, nevertheless had still to defeat Gamba Osaka, 5-3, to qualify for the final against LDU Quito, who had to similarly overcome Mexico`s Pachuca, champions of North and Central America and the Caribbean, 2-0, to qualify. However, the abolishing of the ECWC format for establishing cup competitions, as the `yardstick` for determining continental champions, and the abolition of the IC of South America and Europe, as a contest between the teams that qualify for the game to determine the champions of South America and Europe, and after their club sides have won their repsective continental cup competitions, is a deliberate handicapping of the instrument that defines champions. This has resulted in the bizarre scenario of a Spanish team, Real Madrid, effectively being declared champions of China and Australia without visibly qualifying, and in the absence of a Chinese or Australian national team taking part in the competition. Moreover, an Italian team, Juventus, was effectively awarded the championship of Australia by allowing the Italians one game more than Australia`s Melbourne Victory, who therefore weren`t afforded the possibility of making a comeback.

 By favoring a league format in Europe for all of the remaining European trophies, that is, the UCL Champions`s trophy, and the Europa competition, UEFA and FIFA, who abolished the ECWC and IC, left the way open for world leagues to emerge without legitimate competitive merit. The IC format was cogently based on the cup format, which began with the F.A. Cup in England in 1871-2, and developed throughout Europe in the form of the Cup Winners Cup (ECWC) tournament, wherein teams competed for their national cups, before participating in the wider European contest to determine the winners of an inter-nations` cup. Although there wasn`t an intercontinental version of the cup winners cup, the format remained in the form of the Intercontinental Cup Final between the South American champions, that is, the winners of the Copa Libertadores, which is the inter-nations` cup of South America, and the European champions, who are winners of the inter-nations` cup of Europe. In abolishing the ECWC, UEFA removed the cornerstone of a future world league based on intercontinental cup qualification, which is less time consuming, and more legitimizing, than a league system.

 In abolishing the IC, FIFA removed the possibility of basing the world club championship on a simpler series of intercontinental cup qualifiers. Manchester United hold the record for successes in the F.A. Cup (12), so from the club`s point of view abolition of the ECWC in 1999, after the club`s first and only success in 1991, was compounded by the abolition of the Intercontinental Cup in 2004, after United`s first and only success in 1999. In short, the removal of the ECWC was an attack on the F.A. Cup as the basis for English teams` success in international club cup competitions, and the IC was another cornerstone of that success. By establishing a system of non-qualifiers, and introducing continental championships as invitational, for example, the ICC of North America and Europe, and of China, and Australia, Europe`s teams could dominate global international competitions without having to qualify by winning, which seems to be the ultimate objective, for example, United won the European Cup in 1999, without winning the English league, but by qualifying as runner-up, which would never have occured in the 60s, when the club won its first European Cup in 1968 against Portugal`s Benfica, 4-1, with goals from Charlton (2), Kidd, and Best, after winning the 1966-67 league title: its seventh.

 In 1968 the club lost to South America`s winners of the Copa Libertadores, and so South America`s champions, Estudiantes of Argentia, in the Intercontinental Cup Final of 1968, 1-2, on aggregate, that is, 0-1 away in Buenos Aires, and after a 1-1 draw at United`s Old Trafford stadium, Manchester, despite a last gasp effort and an 89th minute goal by Scots` right wing, Willie Morgan. Though beaten, United participated in a legitimately formatted tournament, whereas in 1999 their defeat of Palmeiras of Brazil, 1-0, in the Intercontinental Cup Final, was founded on qualification for the European Cup as runner-up in the English championship. Consequently, although United won, 2-1, against Bayern in the 1999 Final, their subsequent qualification for the IC Final wasn`t exactly legitimate. Although United qualified for the European Cup of 2007-08 as champions, and won, 6-5 on penalties, after the game had ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time, the IC was abolished and the World Club Cup Finals` legitimacy was based on instant qualification for the semis for the champions of South America and Europe, which again wasn`t strictly legitimate.

 Qualification, based on a league system, hasn`t conferred legitimacy upon competitors, whereas cup competition is irrefutably legitimizing, that is, the winners compete against each other to win by means of the defining instrument, which is the cup undeniably won by teams competing directly against each other in a series of instantly recognizable qualifying contests, which have that irrefutable legitimizing authority absent from the ICC league tables, for example, which allowed Juventus to be declared champions of Australia while denying to Melbourne Victory the courtesy of allowing the Australian champions (1) to play the same number (2) of games as the Italians. UEFA`s abolition of the ECWC and FIFA`s abolition of the IC was a double blow to Manchester United, a club which had but recently begun to win those competitions, that is, the ECWC in 1991, which had been founded in 1960 and was aborted in 1999 by UEFA, and the IC in 1999, which had been founded in 1960 and was aborted by FIFA in 2004. Although the World Club Cup was attained in 2008, United`s achievement was tarnished, and the legitimate path to success was replaced with a sham. Despite that, Manchester United won the championship of South America and Europe in 1999, and the World Club Cup in 2008, before winning the championship of North American and Europe in 2014. If world football`s governing bodies can`t legitimize international club competition, Manchester United are the club for that.