Talking the Beautiful Game

Is Big Money Ruining Football?

Is big money ruining football? Did Messi deserve the Golden Ball in this year’s World Cup? Is Phil Neville a better pundit/commentator than his brother? Is the Pope Muslim? These are all easy questions, and the answer to all of them is a resounding no. Is the amount of money paid to footballers and for footballers obscene and unjustifiable? Does big money give football an unfair advantage over other sports in terms of popularity and accessibility? Is Messi the greatest player of his generation? These are all much more difficult questions, to which the answer is possibly. Herein lays the chief problem when discussing big money in football, as more often than not the opposing sides are arguing over completely different things, on one hand that that the money enhances football, on the other that it is completely obscene.

When posed the question is big money ruining football, the answer can only be no. Yes it may impede to some degree the development of young, home-grown players, but more generally the money that has been pumped into football has improved it immeasurably. We now enjoy a better standard of football than ever before, and as previously discussed that standard of football is now enjoyed all over the world like no other sport. This is due mainly to the massive wealth of the sport, which has enabled FIFA and major television networks to market it more globally, while the wealth has filtered down into player development, producing better players and improving the level of the sport.

The grotesque wages and transfer fees can also be justified to a certain extent, as they are paid relatively to what the player can be expected to earn the club. For example the £80m paid for Cristiano Ronaldo seems a bargain considering the 2 Copa del Reys, 1 La Liga, and most importantly this year’s Champions League in which he scored the most ever CL goals in one season with 17. On the other hand the £5m paid by West Brom to Nicolas Anelka seems extortionate considering he only made a smattering of appearances before being banned and then shipped on for his controversial ‘Quenelle’ gesture. Imagine if you paid a builder to build an extension on your house, you would pay him relative to what the extension is worth to you; so in the context of the millions of pounds that players can earn their clubs, transfer fees and wages can often seem good business.

The primary argument against the big money that dominates football are that it is ridiculous in a world where half the population lives in poverty, players are paid millions of pounds a year for no more than kicking a ball around. With that I would agree, football wages are obscene in the grand scheme of things, but are they ruining football? No. What’s more football is no real evil in this world, if people want something to pick on, they should pick on Western foreign policy, as it is the West that keep poor countries poor and ripe for exploitation through aggressive political pressure and ruthless trade patterns, not FIFA and co.

So when people argue that big money is good for football, they are not arguing that bankers should get bigger bonuses and that gay marriage is evil, they are saying that within the context of what is a very lucrative sport, transfer fees and player wages are to some extent justifiable.

I would like to point out that these are my views, and Art of Football simply provide a platform from which I can express them. We’d love to know what you think so please leave comments below!

Tom Jelpke

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