Rich tradition

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The money — $84 million — PSG splashed to sign Edinson Cavani from Napoli is obscene. If not for the oil wells in the Gulf, the French club owned by Qatari investors wouldn’t have been able to splurge on the Argentine forward. Qatar Investment Group is another name for the country’s royal family and government.
Spending so much cash on an individual doesn’t bode well for the game. Another big question is whether Cavani is worth the money. If Pele and Diego Maradona were available for signing today, what would be their price? $500 million each? PSG and Monaco, another French club bankrolled by a foreign owner, are involved in a rat race to outwit each other in the transfer market. Few would have foreseen that the rules of the transfer game in Europe would be rewritten by French clubs. Ligue 1 had long been a poor cousin of La Liga, Serie A and EPL.
Napoli president Aurelio de Lauren-tiis has rightly called PSG’s swoop on his star forward “ethically wrong.” He has added that the club wouldn’t have sold Cavani if not for a release clause in the player’s contract. It is highly debatable whether any club in the world would be able to resist the kind of money PSG offered. But Laurentiis has certainly raised a pertinent point. “It’s a question of principle. You can’t just go around buying everything. The problem is these clubs are sponsored by companies who flaunt absurd sums of money,” he is quoted as saying.
Football wouldn’t be football if clubs are able to buy success. Killing off competition from smaller clubs through bank balances will affect the game in the long run. Expecting a level playing field would be idealistic in this professional era, but there has to be a threshold to the ever-widening chasm between clubs in the same league. Football is the most democratic sport and the rules that govern its leagues should also give some hope for teams with meagre means.
Resentment is already brewing across Europe at the financial clout of a couple of big clubs in top leagues. Valencia and Wolfsburg have won the league in their respective countries in the new millennium, but it would be a miracle if they are able to do it now. Uefa is headed by a sensible man. Michel Platini has been talking about financial fair play for a long time. The French legend has to walk his talk to ensure that his beloved game isn’t hijacked by a few oligarchs.

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