Crisis in roller hockey: the Champions League has started without Barça or the other greats

Serve the universal soccer to expose the extreme rarity of the matter. Can you imagine a Champions without Barça, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Bayern, PSG o Juventus? Well, it is what has been consummated in roller hockey, which this weekend has started its maximum continental competition with only eight teams, without its court: Barça, Liceo, Reus, Benfica, Porto, Sporting de Lisboa … without any of its most distinguished members. A Champions without champions. “If this can be called Champions, it is surreal …”, unfortunately Carmelo Paniagua, President of the Spanish Skating Federation and member of the World Skating Federation, World Skate, as Chairman of roller hockey.

There are times when the king of sports is in turmoil with that ephemeral Super League project, in which the Euroleague walk with an existential crisis. Their dissidents make money. But, they say, they need more. However, a striking paradox, the riot of the rich in hockey is, directly, to get out of poverty. “It costs us money to play in Europe. We spend on trips but we do not have any income,” he warns Toni Miró, spokesman for that large and rebellious group of greats.

“It costs the teams money to play the Champions League, we have no income for it”

Toni MiróEHCA spokesperson and representative

These clubs and some more to form a total of 12, which constitute the EHCA (European Association of Roller Hockey Clubs), decided to raise their voices in May to advocate for changes in the much needed hockey, change the format of the Champions League to make it a more attractive competition and, from here, generate income that does not exist today . The Spanish Barça, Liceo, Noia, Reus and Caldes, The Portuguese, Oporto, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Oliveirense and Barcelos, the italian set Fortei dei Marmi and the Saint-Omer French are the components of the EHCA.

In summer, there were conversations three-way between World Skate, World Skate Europe -the European Federation-, and EHCA to promote a new competition system in which there will be more direct confrontations between the most powerful teams with a first phase with two groups of eight teams in which everyone will play against all -the first two of each group would go to the Final Four-, reaching a pre-agreement so that it was.

Reus and Barça, in a match this season of OK Liga


However, at the end of August, World Skate Europe published the format of the new season but with 20 teams instead of 16 and distributed in four groups of five, which discouraged direct confrontations between the greats. Apart from the 12 clubs of the EHCA, the tournament included the eight that today dispute that soulless Champions: the Italians Amateurs, Trissino y Sarzana, the french Others, and The Vendeene, The Portuguese Take and Valongo, and the Diessbach Swiss.

The EHCA, in protest for not having respected what was pre-agreed, decided not to appear at the lottery mid-September, and therefore, that none of their clubs appeared in the Champions League. Toni Miró argues the position of its represented:

“The pre-agreement said that the final phase should consist of 16 teams. Ten of the EHCA clubs -Barça, Liceo, Caldes, Reus, Oporto, Benfica, Sporting de Lisboa, Oliveirense, Barcelos, Fortei dei Marmi and Saint-Omer- , more Amatori and Trissino qualified directly and the other four had to come out of a previous one that had to play six of the teams that dispute the Champions League today plus the Oliveirense and the Noia, who had not gained access in their leagues. But the World Skate Europe did not respect the pre-agreement “, denounces Miró.

“We had pre-agreed on a competition format and World Skate Europe did not respect it”

Toni MiróEHCA spokesperson and representative

“This format that we propose is not a closed league, you play it according to your sporting merits, the only privilege is that the EHCA clubs can dispute the previous one if they have not obtained the classification in their leagues. Hockey needs a boost, we have fallen far behind other sports, we want a competition that creates more interest to generate income and also use it to develop our sport in other countries. It’s all for the good of hockey “, assures Miró, who projects the future he envisions.

“On November 27 there are elections to World Skate and World Skate Europe and we will wait until then. We have always wanted an agreement with the institutions, but, if it is not possible, we will organize our own competition. On the other hand, you can no longer participate in a tournament that has started, we have to find a solution so that the 12 EHCA clubs can compete with a European tournament among ourselves. It would be a shame if hockey were to run out of these games, “explains the EHCA representative. The Italian Sabatino Aracu he would have no opponent to be re-elected president of the World Skate, while the Portuguese Fernando Claro It seems that he will not stand for reelection of the European. As MD has learned, only a candidate to happen to him.

Caldes is another of the Spanish teams adhered to the EHCA

Caldes is another of the Spanish teams adhered to the EHCA

Kilian Chair

The World Skate, aligned with the EHCA, has the power to impose its criteria, but the proximity of the elections would have meant that it had not taken sides on the matter, as stated Paniagua. “The proximity of the elections indicates that a decision has not been taken from above so as not to cause a conflict between institutions. But since World Skate supports the EHCA, hockey cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity. World Skate Europe has not respected the pre-agreement, “says the leader.

For his part, who has positioned himself against the original idea of ​​the EHCA, Augustine Silva, head of European roller hockey as Chairman of the World Skate Europe, justifies his position. “What there was was not an agreement, but a preliminary agreement. They want privileges in the competition, they wanted the Noia and the Oliveirense they qualified directly without playing beforehand and we proposed 20 teams because we did not want teams that had won the classification to be left out, that is harming the little ones “, Silva defends himself.

“It is false that we wanted Noia and Oliveirense to access the final phase without prior notice. In addition, of the other eight teams that made the final draw and today play the Champions League, only Trissino and Amatori won the right to participate in the competition, the other six are invited “, Miró responds. Silva also accuses the EHCA of wanting to impose certain points.

“Of course hockey needs changes, but things cannot be imposed by force”

Augustine SilvaHead of European roller hockey

“They wanted to implement certain technical conditions on the rinks when that is the responsibility of the national federations and also to attract sponsorships when that corresponds to World Skate. Of course, roller hockey needs changes and of course we are willing to talk. but things cannot be imposed by force. Furthermore, World Skate has only spoken with them, they do not agree with all this, “says Agostinho Silva.

“From the EHCA the only thing we asked is that the format be respected, We know that there are points that must be discussed and that we will not be able to do so until after the elections. Mr. Agostinho Silva is lying, like when he said that we wanted to force the competition to play on Thursdays when we have offered flexibility to the clubs in that, “Toni Miró responds. What is unquestionable is that hockey has not remained in a tantrum Not a scared The prestigious but impoverished oligarchy of this sport is serious with this reform. But the palace works are going slowly.

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Crisis in roller hockey: the Champions League has started without Barça or the other greats

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