Manchester City and European Soccer Arrive at a Moment of Reckoning

MANCHESTER, England — Strip away the jargon and the euphemisms and the disorientating forest of acronyms, tune out the noise from claim and counterclaim and strident denial, pick a way through the laborious detail and the tangled minutiae, and a simple truth emerges: At the very apex of European soccer, a moment of reckoning is coming.

The report last week that UEFA is studying not so much a revamp as a total reset of its crown jewel, the Champions League, is not an administrative story about the format of a competition. The New York Times’s report, on Monday, that Manchester City might yet be banned from that same tournament is not a story about rule breaches or misleading financial declarations or malicious leaks.

Both are about something far broader and, in a way, far easier to understand. Both are about a struggle for control, between UEFA — the body that has overseen European soccer for decades — and the globe-straddling, extravagantly wealthy superclubs that provide much of its revenue.

Both are about power, and who can exert it. And both are about who runs soccer — on whose behalf, and for whose benefit.