Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

What Can Football Teach Us about Economics? Plenty; ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

What Can Football Teach Us about Economics? Plenty; ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: Russell Lynch

THE looming World Cup isn't just a matter of simply gazing slack-jawed at a Brazilian festival of football: it's all about pondering the deeper questions. If philosopher Albert Camus once famously said "all that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football" -- surely the same principle can be applied to economics. The World Cup and our national sport in general has plenty to say about the dismal science.

FOOTBALLERS DESERVE THE CASH (HONEST)... If Wayne Rooney skies a crucial penalty over the bar in the weeks to come, England fans will be pondering into their pints the PS250,000 a week he gets paid. Some, after a few more beers, might even rail at the pay of these millionaires while nurses get by on a relative pittance. As we all know but refuse to admit, the truth is that the laws of supply and demand are in play.

Only a fraction of us can do what they do, so they have huge value in the market. They have a vast amount of natural ability (yes, really) and pack out huge stadiums: they generate revenues. Brutally speaking nurses are a cost, and with the dominance of the NHS they are subject to a monopsony (a single buyer of services in a labour market) which tends to depress wages. The best footballers generate huge competition for their signatures.

...BUT IT ISN'T SHARED EQUALLY As in life so too in football the rewards of the beautiful game are shared unequally. The Ronaldos, the Messis and the Bales take home far more than the average. ING Bank and football writer Simon Kuper crunched the numbers on Serie A a couple of years ago and found that, while average pay was [euro]900,000, median pay (the mid-point between highest and lowest) was a much lower [euro]500,000. Similarly Rooney's PS250k dwarfs a Premier League average of PS30k a week. …

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