The International Champions Cup, which started out aspiring to be the main football attraction of the summer, is starting to feel a little flat. I can see some clubs have started to turn their back on it – among them, Barça and Manchester City, champions of LaLiga and the Premier League, two of the biggest and best leagues in the world – the best leagues for many. They’re not the only ones who are missing from this year’s edition; also absent are Premier League big guns, Liverpool and Chelsea - and Olympique Lyon and PSG, the two top clubs in France, and neither are Roma or Borussia de Dortmund involved. All of them took part last year but have given it a miss this time.
That has meant that the number of participants has dropped from 18 to 12, and out of the dozen teams taking part this year, there are two clubs with less prominence than the rest - Fiorentina and Chivas. What Charlie Stillitano envisaged would be the biggest annual sports showpiece event of the summer – which on the sly, would also serve as a veiled endorsement for the creation of a mooted European Super League, now seems to have wilted. In spite of its artificial image, the tournament had its appeal because it put forward a case for having a carrousel of friendly games. Its very essence - as some kind of precursor to a European Super League however, lost all meaning when that project failed to take off.
Premier League clubs rail against European Super League plans
The pipe dream cooked up by Andrea Agnelli, Florentino Pérez and a few others for the big clubs to distance themselves from their respective national leagues and create a galaxy all of their own came up against too many hurdles – flat refusal by the Premier League clubs, and concern from French president Emmanuel Macron among others... It was a speculative fantasy – very different from the impulse which brought about the birth and creation of the European Cup, which wasn’t about making money but about uniting a continent which had been torn apart by two terrible world wars. That materialized because it was underscored by a solid idea. But mean-spirited projects thought up for purely monetary interests deserve less consideration and that’s what’s happening. Stillitano is losing support for his model and we should take that as a good sign.