"Which league has made the greatest contribution to the European Cup and the UEFA Champions League?"
- 28 May 2011
- BAFTA HQ, 195 Piccadilly
See the stats
On the panel were:
- Steve McManaman
- Spain - La Liga
- Stan Collymore
- England - First Division/ Premier League
- Marcel Desailly
- Italy - Serie A
- Dietmar Hamann
- Germany - La Bundesliga
- Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
- The Netherlands - Eredivisie
The MasterCard Sport Court voted La Primera Liga as making the greatest
contribution to the European Cup and UEFA Champions League. In a tighter
contest than Saturday's European Cup Final the Premier League powerfully
advocated by Stan Collymore won the pre-vote and made the early running.
The Bundesliga proposed by Dietmar Hamann was voted out first but not before
the former German captain's advocacy of strong financial prudence as the
single factor that separated the Bundersliga from the rest of Europe. On
being voted out he left the audience with a parting warning; not only did
another Manchester United v Barcelona final endorse the 'debt' culture in
football but that UEFA's Financial Fair Play rule would bring about greater
equity within the game and destroy the superpower strangle hold on the
Champions League trophy.
The Dutch Eredivisie were the next league to leave the debate though the
audience clearly warmed to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. His passionate espousal
of Total Football and its value to the European game were much appreciated.
He went onto claim that the Erevidisie was not the best league or had the
best players but to had produced the most technically proficient footballers
and had exported them to the best teams in Europe thus making them the
greatest contributors to European scene. Such was the strength of his
argument in the 2nd round that it posed a serious threat to Serie A and
Marcel's Desailly's continued presence in the debate.
Marcel Desailly used all his Gallic charm to try and sway the audience as he
placed great emphasis on the famous Italian catanacchio as a symbol of
tactical superiority. Stating that over the years the system had been
misconstrued by many as negative and stifling. He went on to argue that the
opposite was true and insisted that not only had all the top teams in Europe
adopted the formula as a spring board to the counter attack but it had
tactically revolutionised the game. He went onto make a sound case for the
winning and tactical mentality of the Serie A but fell at the third round.
Steve McManaman's sharp Saville Row suit and eloquent recital of Spanish
achievement made a huge impact on the audience. Only a passionate Stan
Collymore could match his football knowledge or dexterity stating in his
final summation that no other league had dominated the European trophy with
such a diversity of teams which epitomised the leagues strength and
contribution to European football. Steve Mcmanaman responded by suggesting
that great teams have nick names like Manchester United's Busby Babes but
reminded the audience how they were 'humiliated' by Real Madrid's Los
Blancos! He went onto say the Galatocos (Zidane, Figo, Raul and R. Carlos)
epitomised the brilliance of what La Liga had to offer and that more players
had won the 'World Player of the Year Award' whilst playing in La Liga than
any other League.
The English 1st Division and Premier League pushed La Liga into second place
for much of the debate however the skilful brilliance the Spanish league
versus the consistency and diversity of the English league club won the day
All the speakers were well informed and fluent. There was a competitive edge
but an ambience of collegiality that brought great credit to them. Chairman
Garth Crooks had little difficulty in controlling affairs and only once
showed the yellow card.
Praise to the organisational skills of the MasterCard team, the Sport Court
operational executives and hostesses, the production crew, and the staff of
BAFTA all of whom made the night flow smoothly.
Once again the Sport Court maintained its reputation for a forensic debate
of key issues in an entertaining ambience, showing that important issues can be debated and determined in an engaging, exciting way without being superficial.
The final votes
Spain La Liga 60%
England - First Division/ Premier League 40%
Zidane goal wons best goal with 46% of the votes
Spain La Liga
England First Div/ Prem Lge
“Look at the records and stats, the strength of Spanish football. The Future's glorious, the Future's Spanish”
“We may not win stylish but we've been continuous in our contribution to the European challenge for 6 decades!"
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