Insider Notes: MLS, PRO to test video replay; changes to UCL?
Last week IFAB, which is in charge of the Laws of the Game, announced a testing plan for video assistance for referees that it hopes will go into effect in 2017 in leagues around the world. IFAB said 13 countries had expressed interest in video testing, and one of those is the United States.
This weekend MLS and the PRO referees organization will conduct extensive video testing using IFAB’s recommendations at the Generation Adidas Cup, a youth tournament featuring 17 MLS academies, 10 international clubs and the Mexican U-17 national team in Frisco, Texas. MLS commissioner Don Garber has said all along that he’s serious about wanting to adopt video-replay technology as soon as it’s allowed, and now we’re closer than ever.
Here are a couple of more insider notes from around the soccer world:
Dembélé's suitors line up
The most prized teenaged prospect in European soccer right now is 18-year-old striker Ousmane Dembélé of France’s Rennes.
The club reportedly turned down a $38 million offer from Barcelona this week, and other interested clubs include Manchester City and Manchester United. Dembélé has nine goals in the French league this season and recently had a hat trick against Nantes. I asked the U.S.’s Alejandro Bedoya of Nantes about Dembélé, and he said he’s extremely fast and technical, a player who’s strong with both feet and can play on either wing or behind the striker.
Bedoya said the word in France is that Dembélé could have an even bigger future than United’s Anthony Martial.
Big clubs jockeying for Champions League changes
The idea that big English clubs might be pushing for a European Super League caused a media firestorm in the UK last week, but the uproar obscured what’s really happening behind the scenes.
A source with the European Clubs Association tells me that with the current power vacuum at UEFA, several big European clubs—not just English clubs— are pushing UEFA for more guaranteed spots and games for big clubs in future Champions League tournaments.
How that might affect the format of the tournament remains to be seen, as does how much resistance there will be to the idea.
But right now the ECA has appointed an internal working group to put together proposals for UEFA, and you have several big clubs around Europe saying: We should get more benefits than we currently are receiving.