The UEFA Champions League draw was today, and was one of the most exciting days on the soccer calendar as usual. And, as usual, it was ruined by its joke of a seeding system driven by a coefficient that needs to be retired for good.
UEFA's club coefficient grades teams based on their performances in the Champions League and Europa League over the last five years, while also factoring in the strength of each country's domestic league. Not the last season. Not the last three seasons. Five years. And that's not even the worst of it.
The real kicker in the current system is that it doesn't take into account a team's performance at the club level domestically, just the strength of that team's country. You won the Premier League, but couldn't get out of the group of death in the Champions League? Sorry, but the team that finished three spots behind you and advanced through an easier group gets an easier road in this year's tournament too.
For a sport where all but a select few players spend five years in their primes, five years is a massive sample size, especially in an era of the sport where teams are breaking transfer records bi-annually to completely alter the makeup of their clubs.
Of course, asking a tournament to seed teams based on how dope their summer transfers were would be silly. But telling PSG to get fucked until they've had Zlatan for five years, or Manchester City that they should pay for the sins of Robinho and Jo seems equally ridiculous, no?
If we look at this system objectively, it's the soccer equivalent to making Butler a top two seed in the NCAA Tournament because they made two Final Fours a few years ago. It's the equivalent to Texas going 8-4 this year, but making it into the College Football Playoff because Vince Young was a destroyer of worlds back in the day.
It's insulting to people who want to see the top eight teams in European football clash in the Champions League quarterfinals, instead of seeing Porto lose 4-0 on aggregate to Bayern because PSG/City/Juventus had to face the Real Madrids and Barcelonas of the world in the round of 16.
And, worse than robbing fans of dream matchups in the latter stages of the Champions League, the current system ensures that the teams who benefit from it now will benefit from it so long as they can take care of business against lesser, albeit still talented, competition.
The obvious solution is to reward teams who win the best domestic leagues in the world with a boost to their seeding and shortening the ranking window from five years to three (or one!). Even better would be implementing a selection committee to objectively rank the qualifying teams and match them up appropriately from there, just like the NCAA Tournament
Until a solution is implemented, though, some combination of Bayern, City, PSG, Barcelona, Juventus, and Atletico Madrid, five champions and a runner up, will risk getting boned in the round of 16 draw. Meanwhile, Arsenal, Porto, and Liverpool (a fourth place finisher, third place finisher, and runner up) will benefit from a flawed system.