The Champions League and European Football’s Evolvement

The question as to whether the early stages of the Champions League are unnecessary is an interesting one, particularly as the outcomes of them are generally easy to predict, with the big clubs moving on to the knock out stages and the smaller ones returning, more often than not back to obscurity. However, as true as that is, what is the alternative? The preliminary and to a greater extent the group stages at least offer the smaller clubs an opportunity to express themselves at a higher level as well as offering them much needed revenue. It also offers the football fan a great opportunity to look at the wide range of football that is played in Europe, it offers the opportunity to check out current and future stars of the game plus it also offers the opportunity for clubs to test their fringe and future players in a different style of football.

It should not be forgotten either that very often, games such Inter Milan v Spurs are thrown up, which for many football fans produced the best football seen at any level this season and also spotlighted the outstanding potential of Welshman, Gareth Bale, who has already become one of the most sought after players in world football.

It is true that now and again some matches are a waste, Manchester United v Bursaspor being a recent prime example. Clearly the Turkish side were outclassed and will be consigned to a more distant level of football after the group stages conclude. However, try telling that to their board of directors, their players and their fans that and they would probably start a turf war, as they, like United, earned the right to play the group stages and fully deserved their chance. Bursaspor will, like many other less known teams, be a stronger club for the experience.

It should also be remembered that the like any sport, football is still evolving and the Champions League could easily be the ‘blueprint’ for a much wider form of the game. The idea behind a future European League has long since been on the drawing boards of UEFA and the chances of it being fully sanctioned are quite profound.

How it would work at this stage is hard to know, but it would not necessarily mane the end of domestic football at all. The Premier leagues of all European countries would all continue as normal, with the Champions League being their reward for success. Football fans should be well aware that the Champions League and the Europa League have evolved from the European and UEFA Cups, but both, with the exception of the group stages are still knock-out competitions. The name changes have been made quite possibly for psychologically reasons as much as anything, aimed at preparing all those connected with football, including the football fan for the future format.

Management Concepts: Reality Or Myth

Management concepts always fascinated me. I always envied the MBA grads until I completed my Executive MBA. I went through a lot of case studies and concepts, which were based on the actions or activities performed by the organizations due to which they were successful. Many a times I found out those companies who out performed faded out in the long run. I was skeptical about the studies, which were made and the publications, which glorified their existence. When I wanted to make a point I could not rely on the studies that was published to justify management concepts. I consoled myself that a lot of activities and decisions that are made can give success and may be in the long run few decisions can matter in terms of defining the existence. The activity and decision, which gave the company, the cutting edge may be kept aside and not mixed up with the overall failure of the organization in the long run.

As we all know, success and failure depend upon a lot of factors and sometimes are out of the reach of the executives who take decision for the organization. The organization can have a great strategy and the strategy could be followed extremely well but still success can be something more than the strategy because an organization without a strategy can also become successful. Product differentiation, value proposition and cutting edge technology may give you a position in the market place, but may not be sufficient enough to become successful in the market place. I was fascinated by the quote provided by the representative of one of the venture capital organization who said that the companies are successful because they resolved their problems better than their competitors. It is as simple as that. An example of organization’s success is not enough if the other organizations just imitate because the result has many contexts, which may not suit to the organization that is imitating.

I always thought of starting my own organization and a dear friend of mine told me that 20% of organizations only succeed. I thought that was a great encouragement. There were many organizations that made profit after 10 years of existence. It always made an impression in my mind and made the perspective of business when the long-term was always the first priority. The organization may be doing great for the time being, but it’s existence will only depict when it sustains its success for a longer period of time otherwise the success looses it’s value. Every organization wants to be a success, but the only aspect is to take the right approach the right time at the right place. I do not believe in luck rather I believe in hard work. I believe in the solution that suits the long-term survival of the organization. I believe in the road map and do not believe in imitating successful organizations’ strategy.

This makes me harder to do a case study to define the management concepts. May be I will define the concept based on the success story now and contradict it in the future. That is the reason why the concepts change so rapidly and everybody wants to know the latest management concept. Nobody can see the future and can predict the result of the action or decision that will bring in future. That is why I am very safe if I imitate the successful strategy.

History Of UEFA European Football Championship

First played in 1960 under the name of UEFA European Nations Cup, the idea of this popular European football league was first suggested by Henri Delaunay in 1927 who was a member of French Football Federation. Finally in 1960, his dream turned into reality and the tournament was held in France. In his honor, the tournament trophy was named as Henri Deluanay Trophy. 17 teams participated out of which three teams did not played- West Germany, England and Italy. Among the 14 remaining teams, USSR made its way into the final and won the first tournament trophy by outsmarting Yugoslavia by 2-1.

After that, the name of this tournament was changed to European Football Championship in 1968 and then since 1992, this tournament became popular as Euro. Held once in every four years; statistical reports show that this is the third most popular sports tournament in the world after Olympic Games and World Cup. So far, 13 tournaments had been played and this Euro 2012 is the 14th session. Germany is the most successful team in this tournament who had been in the final six times and won championship title three times.

In 1964, Spain was the host of the tournament with 29 teams participating in the tournament. The host succeeded in bagging the championship title by defeating the last time champion USSR by 2-1.

In 1968, the tournament name was reframed but the format remained same with two new teams. Held in Italy, the championship title also went to the host country when they defeated Yugoslavia in a replay match by 2-0. The most notable incident in that year was a coin toss to decide a semi-final match. This coin toss was the first and the only time incident in Euro history.

Belgium was the host in 1972 when West Germany (now Germany) won the final beating Soviet Union by 3-0.

1976 tournament was held in Yugoslavia and that was the final year to put an end for two things- host team had to be in the final and four teams qualifying in the final. That year is also notable for the newly introduced penalty shootout. Czechoslovakia won the final.

The next tournament in 1980 was organized in a new format in Italy. The concept of group came up and eight teams participated with winners of each group getting into the play-offs and then to the final. West Germany won once again and this was their second championship title.

In 1984, the concept of semi-final also emerged which gave totally a new format to this tournament. France won the tournament by smashing Spain in 2-0. Michel Platini was then the Captain of France who was an impressive player of the tournament. He scored 9 goals in 5 matches.

The two times champion, West Germany hosted the 1988 tournament where Netherlands defeated the host to win the championship title. This year is still considered as a glorious year in football history because Marco van Basten made a spectacular goal over the goalkeeper straight from the right wing.

Then in Sweden in 1992 when European Football Championship became Euro 1992 for the first time! Denmark won the league by defeating unified Germany by 2-0. Yugoslavia was not allowed to participate in the tournament that year as they were in a state of war.

16 teams participated in UEFA Euro 1996which was organized in England. Germany ousted newly-formed state Czech Republic by 2-1 and bagged another championship trophy for the third time. But for unified Germany, this was the first time.

Belgium and Netherlands were the host for Euro 2000 when France was the emperor of football. As expected by the entire world, France once more succeeded in retaining their position as champion when they defeated Italy by 2-1.

The championship trophy of UEFA Euro 2004, held in Portugal, was won by Greece who defeated the host team by 1-0 in the final.

Switzerland and Austria, again two countries hosted UEFA Euro 2008 where Spain defeated Germany by 1-0 in the final to become the champion.

Finally 2012! This year Ukraine and Poland will host the tournament where 16 teams are participating from four groups, each group having four teams. Czech Republic, Greece, Poland and Russia are from Group A, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Holland are from Group B, Croatia, Spain, Italy and Ireland are from Group C and England, France, Sweden and Ukraine are from Group D. This exciting tournament will start on June 8, 2012 and will continue till July 1, 2012.