June 6, 2023
Melinda Head

Ready for FIFA’s North American World Cup in 2026?

The UEFA Champions League final on Saturday is a good place to start

American women have made incredible accomplishments in soccer (aka football everywhere else). The U.S. Women’s team will be looking for its 5th FIFA World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand between July 20th and August 20th. Canadian women earned a gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, proof positive that it can also deliver results.

Forming a true North American pact, the U.S., Canada and Mexico will host the Men’s FIFA World Cup in 2026. The hype machine is already starting.

As our enthusiasm in North America for soccer catches up with the rest of the world, it’s time to start paying attention to the sport internationally. Between now and the much anticipated Women’s FIFA World Cup, the winner of the UEFA Champions League will be decided.

From left to right, the official balls for the UEFA Champions League final on June 10th and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand starting on July 20th

What is the UEFA Champions League? It is an annual club association football (soccer) competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), contested by crème-de-la-crème top-division European clubs. Competition winners are decided through a round robin group stage comprised of 32 teams, divided into 8 groups of 4 teams. Each team plays 6 group stage games. The winning team and the runners-up from each group then progress to the next round; at this point 32 teams have been reduced to 16 teams. Next comes the knockoff stage, with quarter finals, semi-finals and a final match. This year’s final match will see Man City (Manchester) play against Inter (Milan) on Saturday, June 10th.

The UEFA Champions League is one of the most prestigious football (soccer) tournaments in the world and the most esteemed club competition in Europe.

Founded in 1908, Football Club Internazionale Milano, commonly referred to as Internazionale, Inter or Inter Milan, has won the coveted trophy 3 times, most recently in 2010 under the leadership of Jose Mourinho. That was 13 long years ago!

Netflix has a great series called “The Playbook” about high-performing coaches and how they approach their craft. Jose Mourinho, who has coached both Inter and Man City, is the focus of Episode 3; Jill Ellis, who has coached the U.S women’s national soccer team (USWNT), is the focus of Episode 2. Both bring interesting perspectives to the table.

Founded in 1880, the Manchester City Football Club, more commonly known as Man City or City, has never won the prized UEFA Champions League trophy, but the Team has reached the semi-finals 3 times, and was a final match contender in 2021, until it succumbed to Chelsea.

Here is a comparison of Man City vs Inter’s Champions League performance so far. As a statistician I believe in numbers, but this is sport and nothing can be taken for granted on the field.

Norwegian Erling Haaland is the highest ranked Man City player and is, also, the #1 ranked player of all CL teams. This 6’4” 22 year old has played Forward for Man City since 2022. His father is a former professional footballer

Andre Onada is the top ranked Inter player, who also earned a #3 rank across all CL teams. Measuring 6’3” and 27 years old, he is a Goalkeeper from Cameroon who joined Milan in 2022

This year’s Champions League team payout is 20€ million, though winning the entire competition with a perfect group stage performance would earn a prize of 85.14€ million. There is no sport in the U.S. or Canada that earns this kind of dough for winning any championship. Then and again, soccer (aka football) is the most popular sport in the world, period.

If you are working hard to bring yourself up to speed on soccer (football), watching this year’s UEFA final is a must and promises to be thrilling, with Inter hungry to rinse, repeat after a 13 year drought and City looking for its first-ever UEFA CL bragging rights. Soon after that, you can tune in to the Women’s FIFA World Cup starting on July 20th. Our women are incredibly accomplished and a force to be extremely proud of.

These athletes will represent the U.S. at the FIFA World Cup in Oceania

Canada won a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and has qualified for the FIFA World Cup, too. We hope their labor dispute will soon be resolved, now that Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge has stepped in to clean up the player’s strong equity concerns vs their male counterparts

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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