I don’t like football.
I am Portuguese.
I’m sure most of you will now expect some sort of paradox time vortex worm/black hole to suddenly appear and suck as all into oblivion (or something else along those lines). Portuguese and doesn’t like football? Many might believe my species to be extinct, but no! We thrive! Why so? Because gone are the days where Portugal was dependent on “Fátima, Fado e Futebol” (I doubt any translation is necessary).
Before you write me off as a complete footballphobe, allow me to say that I know of and appreciate the benefits of football and any other team sport: it brings people together in a liking for a common activity (“love” might just be too much); it helps kids develop the healthy habit of playing sports; it teaches them camaraderie and team-effort and; can serve as the gateway to diplomatic activity between nations.
However, the commercialisation of football has become ridiculous. Let’s take Cristiano Ronaldo (keep up with the Portuguese theme). The man is known for having the biggest contract in football history: €13 million per year, plus a €1 million buy out clause.
Let’s wait a while for that to sink in.
€13 million/year translates to £10,762,118.51/year, or £206,963.82/week.
Now, according to the Office for National Statistics, UK, the average UK household’s gross income barely scrapes past £30,000/year. This means that Ronaldo earns over 6 times more money in a week, than the average UK household earns in a year. These are households of people with degrees. People who have spent years slaving with books and workshops and placements to be told that a man who kicks a ball around earns 346 times more than them? What kind of message is that to send to today’s youth?
I’ll admit, football requires skill. My question is: are football skills worth that much more than engineer skills? How about medical skills? Or teacher skills? Even fireman skills!
This is money that could be invested on agricultural, climate or medical research (any kind of science really); or further education funding; or helping economies stay out of the red; or poverty aid; maybe even help the setting up of small, local businesses to help create jobs. If you want that money to stay in the sports industry, I keep hearing about Olympic-class athletes who struggle to find funding for training, equipment and travel!
I probably would feel so cheated if I learnt that footballers were investing their extra cash in worthwhile causes (Médecins Sans Frontières comes to mind) and if can prove me wrong on all this, please do.
Until I’m proven wrong, however, do not act surprised or shocked when you get a negative response after asking me if I have World Cup fever. As much as I appreciate the sport for its health, social and diplomatic benefits; I do not feel I can support a bunch of overpaid athletes fronting a Janus-faced industry.
PS: don’t get me started on the violence (read, riots) surrounding club rivalries in football around here.