With 2012 almost done in the books, its time to look forward to 2013. There were some many great moments in the world of soccer this year. Will 2013 provide great memories also? In no particular order, here is my wish list for 2013:
1. A spectacular 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup: With the 2014 FIFA World Cup just under one and a half years away, time will be of the essence for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil in June 2013. Slowly becoming a premier fixture on the world footie calendar, with only the champions of each confederation participating, this tournament will be a “mini-World Cup”, providing the appetizers before the main event next year. Teams like Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Uruguay can deliver high quality performances. Hope it is an all South American final. Mind you, the last two times Brazil has won the Confederations Cup (2005, 2009), European teams the next year have won the main prize.
2. Europe League Champions get an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League: Ok, so I know this likely will not happen. But here would be a really good idea: The winner of the UEFA Europa League would get a spot (either automatic group stage or qualifying round spot) into Europe’s most prestigious club competition: the UEFA Champions league. Sure, the Europa League may not have the quality of the Champions League. However, it would create more interest in the Europa League. Hey, South America does it with the Copa Sudamericana, the continents secondary competition to the Copa Libertadores.
3. MLS Continues to Grow in North America: With 19 teams, Major League Soccer continues to grow. With the demographics of North America changing, and other sports leagues in disarray, now seems ripe for the “Beautiful Game” to continue its upward trend. Consider attendance for the league was up just over 5% over the previous year, along with the NBC Sports Network’s new deal with the league added more viewers, compared to Fox Soccer in 2011. Plus, 2012 MLS Cup viewership was up overall in the US between ESPN and Spanish-speaking broadcaster Telefutura. However, some concerns do remain with MLS including: ESPN’s viewership in MLS Cup falling by 1%, Toronto FC attendance falling should raise the ire of Don Garber. Still, if these issues can be overcome, and if Commissioner Don Garber has some gusto, and puts the Cosmos back in New York, and at least two other teams (1 in the US mid-west and one in the West), then MLS can start to give others a run for their money in the North American sports market.
4. Canada to surprise in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. I am not asking much for the Canadian men’s national team after their 8-1 thump down by Honduras after the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier last October, which sent them packing, but a good showing for our boys could restore faith in the long road back from perdition.
5. Resolve the Canadian TV situation with Spain`s La Liga and Italian Serie A: I can not stand this anymore. The two top leagues in the world not on Canadian TV after BeIN(owned by Al-Jazeera) bought out the North American television rights for both leagues. Canadian soccer fans have been left behind at the alter, yet again. Either Corus, MLSE(which partially owns Gol TV and owns TSN), Rogers better get off their bloody duff and get the televised rights for both leagues, or Al-Jazeera better nag the CRTC to give them a licence for BeIN in Canada. Canadian soccer fans are sick and tired of it and it has to end NOW!!!!!
6. An international club friendly between two top clubs at Investors Group Field in the Summer of 2013: As a Winnipegger, I hope the Board of Directors at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football club (grid iron – Canadian Football League) will book a date for an international friendly between two well-known international soccer clubs. Would love to see even an MLS team go up against a Latin American club or Euro based team next summer. Doubt it will happen, but weirder things have happened.
That is my wish list. I hope all soccer fans have a great holiday season and a wonderful 2013.