Photo credit: Facebook XFL

“The NFL is dead, long live the XFL”. This is in summary the dream of Vince McMahon, founder of XFL, a new American football league relaunched after a first failure 19 years earlier, and whose new version season started on Saturday 8 February.

The American billionaire, powerful CEO of WWE (American wrestling), has invested $ 500 million in the creation of this championship which wants “Give fans a taste for football”, as he announced in 2018 on NBC. "There will be more of what you want and less of what you don't want: shorter games, fewer game stoppages and fewer commercial breaks."

On paper, the promise has enough to salivate more than an American football fan and sports fans in general, who often complain about the length of the games and the complexity of the rules. In fact, the first game on February 8 – which saw the DC Defenders win 31-19 against the Seattle Dragons – was an audience success with 3.3 million viewers and a stadium full at the Audi Washington Field (20,000 places). We watched this match which seemed a bit messy but competitive. We still haven't figured out all the rules, but the players and the referees also seemed to be groping at times. On the clock side, the match did not keep its promises with more than three hours of airtime. The XFL promises that the next matches will fall below 2:45. Let's see.

The XFL Championship is made up of eight teams, divided between West and East. The league is pitched during the NFL offseason: it started a week after the Super Bowl, and will end on Sunday, April 26. Vince McMahon is not the only one to believe in this project since the main American channels like ESPN, ABC and Fox Sports have chosen to broadcast all the games.

The 2020 XFL Championship is Vince McMahon's second attempt after a resounding failure in 2001. The billionaire then joined the NBC chain, deliberately launching a league “Raw and violent”. More spectacular than competitive, it had been highly criticized for its side trash, including sexualized cheerleaders. The championship had been stopped at the end of the first season.

But Vince McMahon promises that the new XFL version will no longer make waves, even if it means limiting the freedom of expression of players. The billionaire has announced that he does not want to “No kneeling, no delinquents”. “People don't want social or political controversies when they come to have fun”, he added, referring to Colin Kaepernick. The former NFL player kneeled on the ground during the 2016 American anthem to protest police brutality against blacks in the United States. He was then banned from the championship.

Vince McMahon's position is reminiscent of that of Donald Trump, the two men being friends. The American President reacted to the “case” Colin Kaepernick during a speech in Alabama in September 2017, calling him “Son of p ***“, And adding on Twitter that players who would not stand up during the anthem “Should be fired on the spot”.


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