The influence of money in football – Is it a problem?
Football is changing before our very eyes and there is little fans can do about it. The big names of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and rising star Thiago Silva are already packing their bags to leave the highs of Serie A to compete in Ligue 1. Now don’t get me wrong, the French league is highly competitive and makes up more than 50 per cent of the international team but since when has Paris Saint-Germain become bigger than AC Milan? It’s not about the reputation any more. It’s about the money.
Take Arsenal’s current situation regarding a certain Robin Van Persie. The 29-year-old was smashing in goals left, right and centre last season and deservedly won the PFA and FWA Player of the Year. Yet with one year left on his contract, the Dutchman’s head has been turned to the city of Premier League rivals, Manchester. Rumours suggest he could be on his way to either the red or blue side but it remains obvious that only one club can lure him away. Ten seasons ago and you would have said Manchester United. After all, they are the club that regularly compete in the Champions League, are in the top two of the Premier League, make it to the latter stages of the F.A Cup and League Cup and in the opening game of the season, pretty much have a trophy already in the Community Shield.
Fast forward ten years to the present, and there is no question that Van Persie will be making his move to Manchester City. It won’t be for the assurance of trophies – they’ve only just began their assault, it won’t be for the life-long competitiveness, the rich background or even the realisation of playing for a big club. It’s the pay-check. The amount of commas and zeros that are added. That, sadly, is the deciding factor.
You think when Robinho made a shock move to the Etihad, he knew where he was? Did David Beckham move to LA Galaxy to increase football awareness in the States or was he just beefing his wallet with $250,000/week? When Ibrahimovic and Silva transfer, will they care who they play for? Money is becoming a massive incentive and agents these days are getting paid more than they are worth. It is up to them to decide what is best for their clients but all they seem to worry about is how to make an extra pound in today’s market.
Not only do high salaries give a green light for players to move to bigger clubs, it also slowly demoralises and extinguishes smaller teams who simply cannot compete any longer. Look at La Liga for example. Every year, we all know there are two teams vying for the title, Copa Del Rey and Supercopa de Espana. Real Madrid and Barcelona. Both giant clubs finished a staggering thirty points higher than third-placed Valencia. Moreover, Jose Mourinho’s men were a further nine points ahead of their rivals. Is this a competitive league when only two clubs have a realistic chance of attaining the trophy? What happens to the smaller clubs whose players have now moved on? Atletico Madrid lost Sergio Aguero to Man City in 2011 and the Spanish sides’ fans were stunned to hear Aguero had purposely run out his contract before pushing for a move. He had an offer from Real Madrid and Juventus which he turned down. How many people would do that?
Now I’m not trying to disrespect Manchester City or PSG who are simply doing what they believe is right, I’m just stating the fact that money has become an indulgence to players. Long gone is the time when you could support a single player for showing his loyalty to a club. With further rises in wages, football is not only becoming a brand, it’s becoming a business.
And just how do we stop that?
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