Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cardiff City Should Be Allowed into the UEFA Cup

I'm not sure what the issue is here. There shouldn't even be any debate about it; if Cardiff City becomes eligible for the UEFA Cup based on winning the FA Cup, the Bluebirds should play in Europe. If Portsmouth qualifies for the UEFA Cup through their final league position, which is possible, that would give Cardiff a berth as well because they've reached the FA Cup final.

I don't care that geographically, Cardiff is a city in Wales. They play in an English-based domestic league, the Coca-Cola Championship. They don't compete in any Welsh competitions and haven't for a while.

FC Vaduz is based in Lichtenstein, but have qualified for European competition while playing in Switzerland's second division and winning the Lichtenstein Cup seemingly every year. AS Monaco is located, obviously, in Monaco, but they play in France's top flight and reached the Champions League final in 2004. Derry City plays their home games in Northern Ireland, but are part of the Irish league and have played in Europe as an Irish team.

Here in America, the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, and Calgary Flames (all NHL) all are located in Canadian cities and play in American-based major professional sporting leagues, and there are countless other examples of this at the minor league and junior levels as well. If those teams reach the playoffs or win their respective leagues' championships, it's not like those accomplishments don't count because they're not American teams; they count the exact same.

Don't tell me that because the city of Cardiff isn't in England, their club can't represent England in the UEFA Cup. That's nonsense.

As usual, the English FA has taken a moronic stance towards this matter:

"Our position remains unchanged and should Cardiff win the FA Cup this season they would not be chosen as the FA's nomination for European competition.

Cardiff enter into English domestic competitions on this understanding and they are fully aware of the rules and regulations under which they take part.

These rules remain the same and there would be no scope for Cardiff, or any of the other Welsh clubs in the English system, to qualify for Europe as England's representative."

OK, fine. I understand that Cardiff, and other Welsh teams playing in England like Swansea and Wrexham, originally had some sort of verbal agreement and understanding that they couldn't play in Europe as a representative from England. That can surely be modified or altered in some way. Cardiff earned their way to the FA Cup final, and tradition, practice, red-tape, and geography were standing in their way.

Not so fast. I also don't applaud UEFA president Michel Platini very often, but I absolutely will for his recent commments concering this situation. Platini wants to look into giving Cardiff a "wild card" entry into the FA Cup if necessary, which is fair.

Again, this becomes a moot point if Cardiff doesn't win the FA Cup or Portsmouth doesn't qualify for the UEFA Cup automatically through league position. I hope the Bluebirds do end up playing in Europe though, because not only do I want to see egg all over the FA's face, but it's a true underdog story that deserves a storybook ending.

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