As we all know at this point, in an attempt to increase viewership and ratings due to the empty stadiums, Liga MX officials made the decision to extend the duration of each fixture week for the upcoming Guard1anes 2020 season. This was carried out by scheduling matches on Thursdays, kicking the week off a day earlier, as well as adding a game on Mondays, emulating NFL’s “Monday Night Football.” In short, some fixture weeks will last up to five days. That’s right, five days. Whether it is a smart move or not, it will indeed accomplish the goal of giving fans more time and opportunities to watch all the teams in the league by not cramping two or three different matches on top of one another like they had done in the past, especially in the Saturday fixtures.
But, as you look through the schedule, one main point stands out; none of the labelled “4 bigs” (referring to América, Cruz Azul, Pumas, and Chivas) are scheduled to play on a Thursday. Forget playing at home, but not even as a visiting team either. And you can add Rayados de Monterrey to that list as well. As reported by ‘El Universal’, all four of the “bigs” emphatically shut down any possibility of playing a home game on a Thursday. But to not allow themselves a road game either seems a bit odd if you ask me.
What does playing on a Thursday mean? For starters, it means less rest for the entire squad, as most teams play on Saturday or Sunday, meaning the team would get three to four days rest at the most. It also means less training and conditioning opportunities, as day-after-match recovery sessions are a must at the professional level. So that would leave about two days tops to get the detailed rival sessions in before the fixture; that’s definitely not on a coach’s wish list. On top of that, less recovery time from game to game automatically increases the risk of injury for any player. So, in just four sentences, I named three big disadvantages that most teams will have to deal with, except for the “bigs.”
Why is that? Why would Liga MX and FMF continue to favor these big teams in this way? A schedule should be even and fair for all teams. That’s part of playing in a professional sports league. No team should get special treatment or be favored in any way, no matter how many titles said team has won. Why should only some teams have to deal with these very obvious issues? All those answers are beyond me.
What is true is that if anyone believed the league sees and treats all teams in an equal way, that theory can quickly be discarded. After all these years of complaints of doing favors for the bigger and more popular teams in the league, Liga MX officials still haven’t learned the lesson. It’s not a matter of the “bigs” wanting to play on a Thursday or not; it’s a matter of them being part of an 18-team league and adjusting forcefully to something everyone else is having to do. It’s part of fair competition and the infamous FIFA “Fair Play” which in reality has no meaning or effect on the sport at all, as we continue to see these little, but very indicting actions.
Can this be the difference between a team winning the title? Let’s back up a bit to answer this question. Can a team be affected by this difference in scheduling by an injury to an important player? ABSOLUTELY. Can that injury be the difference between playoff seeding and playoff rivals? ABSOLUTELY. Will a team lower than the 4th seed be playing an extra wild-card round match where anything can happen? ABSOLUTELY. In short, this little minor detail can be the difference between a team winning the title or not because of the big advantages to having extra days of rest and preparation from week to week, as well as avoiding extra playoff matches. But that little fact is conveniently glossed over when presenting the official schedule.
While this scheduling issue is not a major defining factor and many may view it as irrelevant, the fact that the league continues to favor the so called “bigs” in any way they can continues to baffle me. The fact that they have not learned from their malpractices in the past does not say anything positive about Liga MX’s future, as the teams who exert control over Mexican Football continue to manifest themselves in a blatant manner.