Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Excessive Excess Is Addiction the Beautiful Game Will Never Kick

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Excessive Excess Is Addiction the Beautiful Game Will Never Kick

Article excerpt

Byline: Jason Cowley

CARLOS SLIM, the MexicanLebanese entrepreneur who is, after Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the third richest man in the world, likes to say that before a crisis there is always "an excess of excess". We may be living through the greatest economic disaster since the 1930s but football, at the highest level, continues blithely on in its own decadent way, wedded to a bewildering culture of excess.

Real Madrid's signings of first Kaka (for [pounds sterling]56million) and then a few days later Cristiano Ronaldo (for [pounds sterling]80m) have created an even greater sense of reckless irresponsibility as well as inflation in a market that, by any reckoning, should be in recession.

Football increasingly operates beyond rational constraint. Clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United are oppressed by debt acquired during leveraged takeovers by American billionaires, but Liverpool, for instance, have this week bid [pounds sterling]18.5m for an okayish right-back. Work that out.

Chelsea and Manchester City are free to spend recklessly because the stupendous wealth of their owners means football, to them, is merely a source of idle amusement, the plaything of the international plutocracy.

Yet all of this creates a climate in which a teenager such as Daniel Sturridge, who has played but a handful of games for Manchester City, can reportedly reject a lucrative contract offer because he thinks (or is told by his agent) he should be among the club's highest earners, who include international superstars such as Robinho. Well, that will be [pounds sterling]140,000 per week then, Sir.

Meanwhile, Samuel Eto'o demands a net salary of [pounds sterling]850,000 per month if he is to join City. And who can blame him when everyone else in this mad football world, with its rapacious, winnertakes-all ethos, is out for himself? …

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