Too many teams and little hierarchy

Sixty-seven teams spread over the two most important divisions of Argentine soccer seem like an excess. But that’s what the leaders wanted. Claudio Tapia, The president of AFA, gave them the pleasure and against the backdrop of the pandemic, robust and happy tournaments have been played without risk of relegation for anyone and with chances of reaching continental cups and promotion for many.

No country will have 28 teams in the First Division and 39 in the Second Division in 2022. Argentina will. Quantity is not quality, but more games to televise and that is what really matters to Tapia and the rest of the leadership: charging more and more for their television contracts. It was assumed that next year a strong de-escalation would begin so that, in a reasonable period of time, there will not be more than 20 participants in the highest category. But gradualism was preferred: There will only be two descents by averages and two promotions and only in 2023 will it be raised to four descents with the idea that in 2026 there will be 22 teams in A. In the First National, the process will go even slower and it will take many years to reach 20 or 22 sets. No one will raise their hand to vote four downgrades.

If in most of the major leagues in the world there are 40 participating clubs between the first and second divisions (only England surpasses that number with 44, 20 in the Premier League and 24 in the Championship), it is clear that in Argentina there is a surplus of between 20 and 25 teams that are where they should not be. They are supported by the inexhaustible internal political thread of the AFA. But also the direct management of governors, legislators and businessmen who try to give visibility and bring businesses closer to their provinces and cities through the presence of their teams at the highest level. The real degree of popular insertion they have and the quality of the stadiums they present does not matter. Tapia enables almost all of them and in that easy yes also lies one of the sources of his power.

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The same phenomenon of soccer overpopulation has been occurring in other planes: In 2022, 47 teams will play the Copa Libertadores and 56 will go to the South American totaling 103 clubs. There will be 48 selected playing the World Cup from 2026. And there is an idea from UEFA to turn the current League of Nations in Europe from 2024 into an intercontinental mega tournament that would incorporate the ten South American countries. It is intended that the football business be bigger and the leaders are moving in that direction. But this artificial fattening of the championships will not necessarily lead to a better football, or even more equal. There will only be more games and more money will be moved. Argentine soccer has decided to march there. And sets trends: 67 teams in the top two categories they serve to create a fictitious sense of parity and to satisfy the political needs of their leaders. But not to generate a hierarchy competition.

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