Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Mooney, Mooney....

This is an entry I feel slightly uneasy writing. As much I love watching and talking about football, I absolutely hate what the modern game has become today. Conservatives and Liberals often argue about where the boundary should be drawn between nationalisation and commercialisation, and I think that football is one of those industries that should have been kept squarely away from deregulation. Despite these feelings however, I find that football and footballers themselves are always held up to a bizarre standard that isn't applied to any other section of society. This is an article therefore that is actually going to defend the so-called mercenaries of football, most recently highlighted by Wayne Rooney's decision to hold his club Manchester United hostage, seemingly only to receive a larger pay packet.

Having made my feelings clear on what I believe is wrong with football today, we are where we are. Why is it that when a solicitor or a doctor, has successfully risen up the career ladder and 'made something of themselves', by earning a large salary increase or moving to a bigger firm they are lauded by their friends everywhere and are apparently what most people attempt to emulate. It always seemed pretty clear to me from my middle-class upbringing that when parents and friends of parents said to their children 'one day you'll make me proud' it never meant, I hope one day you find what you truly love and enjoy yourself, it meant however it was phrased, I hope you grow up and make a lot of money as that is the barometer we judge a person by when we call them 'successful'. Yet bizzarely when a footballer moves to a different club, most famously in the case of Ashley Cole for money, he is labelled a mercenary. Is it not true that whether Cole had stayed at Arsenal or moved to Chelsea his job description would have been the same, playing with 10 other players on a footall pitch and attempting to win games? Is there some compelling evidence that he is more likely to have got on better with his Arsenal teamates than his new ones at Chelsea? In other words what is the difference between his two situations only that in the second one he earns a higher salary? Wouldn't all of us do that? Don't we all do that on a day to day basis. When a different firm offers you a larger salary do you stop to wonder if your manager might be upset if you left? One of the accusations often levelled at footballers like Rooney, who essentially publicly manufactured a false sense of scarcity to raise his perceived value to Manchester United who promptly offered him a higher salary as a result, is that they are selfish. But does Alex Ferguson go around helping all 18 year olds he can find from Liverpool, or only those that are there to do a job for him? Arsenal did not hang on to Cole as they were developing him as a favour to him, they were doing it to help themselves and there are plenty of other players that they have let go of without a moment's consideration for the players interests and the same applies to Alex Ferguson.

Whether or not football should have been opened up to the free market or not, a lot of the general public seem to be in denial about what a free agent in the rest of private sector actually entails. For example a lot of people during the Rooney saga insisted that he did not have to bring the situation about himself in such a public manner, but by doing so Rooney increased has salary by an estimated £50,000 a week. Peolpe that say he shouldn't have done it, are essentially asking someone else to forgo £50,000 a week instead of briefly upsetting a club that is itself there for profit, and wouldn't have pumped that money if retained back in to the community but merely pocketed the cash. These are absurdly unreasonable standards that I don't think anyone in the real world would do themselves if given the opportunity, even if it was the allegedly small amout that Cole left for of £5,000 extra a week.

Members of the public often seem to only apply this higher sense of moral standing at selective moments. If the public is right that money should not be a primary motive and that there are other more important things in life, than actually surely a footballers life must be fairly empty and difficult and worthy of sympathy. I'm sure most people would not enjoy travelling a lot, being away from the family, constantly being satirised and picked on in the media, never allowed a moment of privacy etc. and yet whenever any of these hardhsips are brought up they are sneered at, and the footballers described as pampered and their wage packets referred to, essentially contradicting the idea presumably that money doesn't buy happiness. Take the case of Carlos Tevez a man who seemingly embodies some of these morals that footballers are accused of lacking. Tevez has often made it clear that he is thinking of retiring from football because he does not like being away from his family amongst other things and is therefore willing to forgo a few extra years earning millions of pounds for his work. Instead of fans congratulating him on getting his priorities straight, he's derided as someone that is pampered and he should try working in a factory for little money, as if that will somehow mean that only then is he allowed to be a family man. The irony of course is that while calling these players selfish, the fans only care about themselves and their entertainment as they want the best players at their club and they don't care about what sacrifices might be made for that to happen.

Football, definitely should not have been left unregulated, but while it is, members of the public need to accept that from the players to the managers to the clubs themselves, everything is about profit maximisation in a way that is no different from how they themselves behave when earning their wage in the free market. Instead of only bringing up this notion of soulessness and materialism when it affects them and their football club, it would be much be more commendable if the general public applied the same standards towards unchecked capitalism to wider society and thought less about how much money a footballer should be forgoing a week for their pleasure on a saturday, but how much they could be forgoing by donating to a local charity or taking the profit motive out of other more important aspects of society. Until then I find it hard to deride a player doing what anyone else would in his situation.

No comments:

Post a Comment