“Ten years ago I was bought for 75 million Euros ($98.69 million) and I said I was not worth this,” – Zinedine Zidane
131 Million USD is what it cost Real Madrid to sign Gareth Bale. It took them no more than a day’s thinking to settle on the decision that Gareth was actually worth that amount. Value for money no longer seems to be the motto to live by – not for these cash rich football clubs, at least. To respect talent is one thing – to flaunt your financial prowess is something else. Sadly enough, most clubs seems to adopting the latter policy.
Financial studies present baffling statistics. Diego Maradona was bought by Napoli for a sum of GBP 5,000,000 – a sum that is now worth GBP 10,000,000. Does it really go to show that the player crowned ‘The Player of The Century’ is really 8 times less talented than Gareth Bale? Most football fans would shudder at the thought.
Clubs that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars often spend a bulk of their money to pay off their astonishingly high player wages. However, this often comes at the cost of not improving the stadium sizes, lower security measures for fans at the stadium, lower focus on youth academies and increased ticket prices. But, what other psychological after effects do such transfer fees have? View it from the perspective of the player bought. He now knows that he is accountable to each and every fan on two grounds – firstly, as a regular player of the football team. Secondly, as a beneficiary of the fat pay package, he is expected to live up to surreal expectations from fans. Fan dissatisfaction is an increasing problem – it can be seen with the cases of Bale at Real Madrid, Torres at Chelsea and former instances of Juan Sebastian Veron, Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka.
Personally, I’m of the opinion that cash rich football clubs are good for the sport. However, a sport as widely viewed as football goes beyond the realm of just its players. It has been a sport that has thrived because of the rich traditions of its fans and supporters. We, as dedicated followers of the game, pray for it to stay that way. Commercialization has its pros. The difference with football, however, is that it has a greater role to play. It owes something to the community that nourishes it. That is where the bulk of the money should be directed.
This article, by no means, explores the concept of financial inequality from a professional angle. It, to be precise, is the heartfelt confession of a lover of the game. For most of us, football is much more than a matter of life and death. We’d hate to see the game consumed by the ravaging trends of financial superiority.
Abhishek Amar (Mechanical)
Illustration by Advita Adyanthaya (Information Science and Engineering)