The Press Association found a UEFA prompt sheet left lying around at Panathinaikos' Europa League match against Spurs on Thursday urging club press officers to talk up the competition in a very specific fashion (image below). Trumpeting a new campaign called "DISCOVER THE DRAMA," the memo serves as a weak attempt to drum up more interest in what is essentially a consolation tournament to the far more glamorous and popular Champions League.
"Please use one of the below phrases or keywords at the start of the press conference when welcoming the media representatives," it instructs. "In addition, they may also be used by Club Press Officers when briefing coaches and players as their use would be of great support to us," it begs. And what are these three "key messages" that will make everyone fall in love with the Europa League? Here they are in all their unspectacular glory:
-"UEFA Europa League is prestigious -- it provides clubs, players and fans with the challenge of competing in European football and for an elite trophy." But not as elite or prestigious as the Champions League.
-"UEFA Europa League is rich in heritage, having provided some of European football's most memorable moments and characters in recent years." Except not really.
-"The most important quality that we want to communicate is that the UEFA Europa League is dramatic." Just as a fourth division match or high school play can be dramatic too.
Of course, this campaign and it's assertion of non-specific drama isn't going to change anyone's perception of the Europa League, so it's really just a waste of paper. There are far better ways to promote the competition, though.
Instead of calling it prestigious and rich in heritage like the Champions League, drawing a comparison it simply cannot win, they should highlight its differences. It isn't the prim and proper upper crust trying their best not to embarrass themselves in front of their hoity-toity friends, it's the cheap hooker you settle for when there are no other options and you're too desperate to function. But that can be oodles of fun and drama in its own, very different way.
The Europa League should be billed as an anything goes free for all with no rules. Like international waters. Sword fights, baby races, ignoring the offside rule, possible appearances by sloppy drunks who think they're James Bond -- even if it's not true, just say it is. That's how you get people to buy into the drama of the Europa League. With the promise of sword fights and baby races.