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Published on July 7th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie

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The Worldwide Decline Of Football Part Two

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A crewwoman is on watch-duty. She peers out at the darkness, willing the impenetrable curtain to reveal what it is hiding. The night is eerily calm as disturbances distillate themselves on the mirrors’ edge of an ocean whose depths are unfathomable. All around her are signs, symbols, omens of things to come, predictions that will not reveal themselves at this juncture.  This time the warnings go unabated.
Yellow Magpie continues its new opinion section with the current state of World Football.

You can read part one and part three of Yellow Magpie’s Worldwide Decline Of Football here..

Worldwide Corruption

Since football became awash with money, mainly due to the marketing nous of Sepp Blatter, known by some fans as Septic Blatter, the sport has become embroiled in allegations of corruption. Blatter has being  plagued by so many controversies that many of the world’s first nation politicians, and indeed most organisations, would have asked him to step down years ago. Likewise some of FIFA’s delegates, who select which country will host World Cups, have had serious allegations of bribery levelled against them.

Sepp Blatter Photo By Roosewelt Pinheiro

The absolutely bizarre choice of Qatar to host the 2018 World Cup has cemented these connotations of corruption. With temperatures in the mid 40’s (more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit) in a region not known for its footballing prowess, located almost as far away as possible from regular World Cup attendees – it would not be straining credibility to suggest that eyebrows were raised when this decision was announced.

The only solution to this problem is to pull the FIFA organisation apart and re-examine every aspect of how it functions with a view to preventing such abuses from occurring again.

Inflated Wages And Embezzlement

Over the past two decades the wages and transfer fees commanded by players have risen exponentially. Now it is not uncommon for high-profile players to earn over €100,000 a week. The vast bulk of a club’s expenditure is spent on player wages. In 2009 the world transfer record was broken once again, this time by Cristiano Ronaldo who commanded a fee of €93 million.

A talented but overrated footballer, Ronaldo has a tendency to go missing when the pressure is increased and he is needed most thus giving added emphasis to the notion that the sport is starting to lose its sanity.

Cristiano Ronaldo Photo By Jan SOLO

A game that is swirling with such large amounts of cash creates two problems. Firstly the paying of such wages and transfers eventually becomes unsustainable. In the modern age of interdependent global banking, an epoch that is underscored by a departure from safe, prudent deposit-based lending in favour of high-risk, high-reward leverage-based banking – the foundations of economics have never been built on such unstable ground.

Football is a sport that is right plumb in the middle of this delicate business. Locked in a perpetual loop, in order for clubs to be competitive – most spend money procuring the services of the best squad they can buy. They thus incur more debt. The only recourse, as they see it, from such onerous financial circumstances is to earn more prizemoney by winning more matches and garnering trophies. However, to achieve this they need better players and so need to spend more money and so the cycle endlessly repeats until either they win big or, more likely, unpayable debt and bankruptcy occur.

A Dangerous Financial Model

The prudent question to ask at this juncture is why don’t we see stacks of clubs folding? The obvious answer is that while football remains a business, it is viewed as being highly prestigious, almost having romantic overtures. At this point in time it continues to attract the rich and famous to throw money in support of their favourite club. In essence, multi-millionaire and billionaire sugar-daddies are keeping the game afloat. For the present football is safe but its perilous position is far from secure and with it, the future promises to bring much upheaval and tumult.

This problem is a difficult one to solve. However, the second, more morally serious issue that concerns clubs is much easier. Embezzlement is rife in football. There are reports of football managers in the world’s top leagues selecting substitutes based on who gets the highest appearance fees in return for a kickback off the player.

This is but one financial scam that is occurring. The use of agents has also started to come under scrutiny. It appears that many individuals within clubs persuade their players to use certain agents. These individuals then illegally take a percentage from the agents and line their own pockets.

Poor Referring

One of the perennial blights on the sport of football is the quality of the referees available. This is a complex and multi-layered problem. At the heart lies the organisation most at the centre, FIFA. FIFA have a reluctance to choose the best referees, instead they pander to politics by selecting referees from many footballing countries, even if their suitability is highly questionable.

One of the worst refereeing performances in the history of World Cup football (which includes a referee who helped Italy win the World Cup in 1934 and even headed the ball to an Italian player) was by Byron Morena in the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup. Morena helped South Korea beat Italy by allowing the Koreans to constantly foul Italian players, denying them several legitimate goals and sending one of their players off in acrimonious circumstances in what some suggest was a match-fixing scam.

The worst part of FIFA refereeing standards is there refusal to sanction technology to assist referees. Football is a very slowly evolving game. Today’s matches could be played in the 19th century such is the lack of technological sophistication. The luddism of football authorities is all the more worrying given the vast sums of money at their disposal and the fact that wrong decisions can seriously financially hurt teams as well as leave supporters with a very bad taste in their mouth.

All of these aspects of football can be rectified with better regulation and better personnel. The question though remains – is there desire to do so?

You can read part one and part three of Yellow Magpie’s Worldwide Decline Of Football here..


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