The football associations are not only the richest, most powerful and best-known sports organisations, but also the most unscrupulous, corrupt, money-hungry functionary-run organisations in the world.
To be sure, the current “European Championship” is also about sports – but it is much more about money. The two dozen players kicking around on a soccer field are, as in horse racing or elsewhere in show business, only the lowest link to ever more organisers’, financiers’, secondary dealmakers’ and criminals’ tussle for big money in international and national competitions.
The fate of individual football players is similarly brutal as elsewhere in show business: if the player is considered a “talent”, he is promoted – not because of his person, but because this investment is expected to multiply. Out of 100 promoted players, more than 95 % lose this promotion when they do not become first-class. Only a very few are suited for top performance and make the big deal themselves as well as for their investors.
Professional football today is what gladiatorial games used to be formerly: ruthless, contemptuous of humanity. Only top performance is paid for disproportionately, but top performance in turn is only achieved in combination with the complete subjugation of one’s lifestyle, way of life, goals and health to the pressure to do well in one’s sport.
Thus, professional footballers are today’s modern gladiators and, like them, are ruthlessly drilled, their lives dictated, their function determined by sport, their health ruthlessly exploited by masseurs, doctors and, for example, the use of pills. Like the ancient gladiators in Rome, they are sacrificed to competitive sport, that has turned to brutality. There are only a few top athletes who reach old age in a healthy condition at all. Most of them have been operated on many times, have become cripples or invalids – like the author himself with his bad knees.
The short top career period of top athletes is usually followed first by a strong deterioration of their health, and then by their economic and human collapse. Those who can no longer deliver top performance are sorted out, dumped; they are unprofitable.
Who makes money with the top performance of athletes is the coaches, advisors, mediators, officials of clubs and associations, as well as the media. The big money stays at the top and reaches the players only in trickles. According to Mittelstandsinstitut estimates, more than 30 helpers, freeloaders, journalists and officials earn money from every professional athlete. The European Football Championship means big money for not even 300 players, but for more than a million profiteers.
When a sphere of life, an area of society or a business domain comes under the influence of big capital, there is always a change in its goal and purpose:
Sport itself has changed accordingly. Top-level sports are less interested in talented new blood in the clubs than in global search for foreign talent. Teams no longer develop young talent from within the club; instead, football legionnaires are bought up from all over the world for sums running into the millions. Down-to-earthiness, identity or even nationality no longer play a role. That is why there is no longer a German national team, but only the “Team” without identities and with a predominantly migrant background.
In all countries, if a talent can be bought somewhere in Africa or Asia, it is even made into a national player with tricks to increase its value (Musiala). And if there is a higher bid, the nationality and thus the corresponding “national team” are changed to increase the value.
The question remains: How long can the sport of soccer continue to fascinate spectators or sports bettors when the multi-cultural gladiator teams from England, Belgium, France, Germany, etc., subsidised by millions, have less and less identity of their own, become a plaything of officials and capital interest, and are not only arbitrary but increasingly interchangeable. Today, there is no longer such a person as an Uwe Seeler or Franz Beckenbauer loyal to his home country despite all financial temptations. Top players play where there is the most money and change clubs and even nationalities as soon as there is more money somewhere else. And from this transfer business, clubs, advisors and agents earn even more than the player himself.
Borussia Dortmund has rightly become a joint-stock company the merit of which lies in tracking down young up-and-coming players all over the world, developing them, presenting them, being successful with them and then selling them with a thousand-fold added value. If you have two or three such cases a year, high returns are guaranteed for the club, i.e., the joint-stock company.
Another business model is that of Bayern Munich and most of the big Spanish and English clubs, i. e. companies: Buy ready-made players and coaches, lead them to success and live from marketing them as a top team: from the media, spectator numbers, visiting match fees and fan article sales.
English football clubs are even further removed from sport and more oriented towards commerce: The top clubs are now owned by oligarchs and other financial powers. These see this as an investment which must generate returns and increase in value through victories, and may then be sold again at a profit.
One simply has to realise: Football today is first and foremost about money, even more than about sport. Professional sport is no longer an activity in the context of life and health, but a brutal business in which the financial sharks are permanent winners, and the athletes may be short-term joint winners; but in the long run they are the losers. •
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