What is it that a football fan admires most in a footballer? What is it that a football fan dislikes most in a footballer? What is it that makes a football fan feel so removed from the inside world of the beautiful game?
You get home from a day’s work. You slump down on the settee, frustrated at being deployed in a role you feel is not suited to you. The phone rings. It’s in response to a CV that you’ve recently submitted. You are offered a role that you do feel is suited to you, and you are offered a 30% pay increase. What do you do?
It’s ironic that the majority of football fans would walk into their place of work the next day with their notice of employment. Yet they (we) would expect their favourite stars to turn down the lucrative contract offer and remain loyal to their club.
Falcao is an excellent recent example. Enjoying the freedom of being able to choose almost any club in Europe he, much to the criticism of many, chose to join newly promoted French side Monaco on a five-year deal. You don’t have to look very far to discover why Falcao chose the club that he did. It certainly wasn’t for the want of joining a well-supported, much-loved club. With a stadium capacity of just over 18,500, their average attendance last season was a tiny 5,295. Only the 13th highest in Ligue 2. Due to the laws on tax in Monaco being rather lax, you would be foolish to look beyond the financial circumstances for the reason of his choice of club.
It’s a common occurrence in football. You see stars moving clubs because they aren’t getting games or because they get offered more money elsewhere. You see stars of lower-tiered clubs leaving to become a reserve at a big club, and at such a young age. But as fans of the game, fans of these clubs and even of the players, we see this as players not wanting to stick around to fight for their place. We see it as players becoming greedy and jumping ship as soon as more money is flashed in front of their eyes.
One could argue that these players earn so much money, that an extra 30% cannot make much difference. At the end of the day, they are living to their means much the same as everyone else. They may be on £100,000 per week, but I don’t imagine their mortgage is £600 per month. It is true that they are more earning a lifestyle rather than earning a living, but what we also have to remember is just how short a career in football is. On average, you may have a career that spans 15 years, but that’s nowhere near the near 50 year career that you or I will endure.
Football is said to be becoming more and more like a business every day and less and less like a sport for the fans. Managers scout the globe for individuals who could really add something to their team. The individuals scout the globe for the best deal that they can get, whether that is financial or otherwise. Club owners invest money and expect a return. But isn’t this much the same as everyday life?
What is it that a football fan admires most in a footballer? Loyalty. What is it that a football fan dislikes most in a footballer? Greed. What is it that makes a football fan feel so removed from the inside world of the beautiful game? Because they believe that if they were in a similar situation they would act differently. The real question is; is the world of football in any way different to the everyday life that you and I live? I don’t think it is. I’m not trying to defend footballers, or justify the astronomical wages that they earn, all I am asking is why we expect them to show loyalty and not greed when the majority of the public would not?
By Paul Price