Monday, February 14, 2011

International Soccer: The Haves and the Have Nots

Bagga Wilks

Soccer is undoubtedly the most globalized professional sport on the planet. The best players from all parts of the world gravitate to the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy and the Bundesliga in Germany. National leagues persist but once outstanding talent crystallizes, those players by the lure of big money leave home to play among the giants. A case in point is the burgeoning Brazilian star, Neymar, who plays for Santos and it is expected that in the summer of 2011, he will be given a lucrative contract by one of the top clubs in the world of soccer.

Brazil, a world class national team, lacks a first class league comparable to those in Europe and thus they must throw their young lions to the European gladiators. Their aging lions like Ronaldo, Ze Roberto and Ronaldinho, return to Brazil for the last hurrah.

Within Europe, there are great disparities of earnings. The poor clubs simply cannot compete and more often than not serve as farm teams for the development of latent talent. When the penurious teams develop their own talent, the converse of Robin Hood takes place. The rich simply poach on the poor and ensure the perpetuation of their second class status with the only hope to be rescued by some oil tycoon from the United Arab Emirates.

Earnings of the top ten soccer teams invariably reflect their standings in the respective leagues. Real Madrid and Barcelona have earnings of 438 million pounds and 398 million pounds, respectively. Perennially, La Liga is a two-horse race coming down the stretch. The other teams are competitive but invariably suffer the ‘also ran’ syndrome.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in earnings are ranked 3, 5, and 6 respectively. The nouveau riche, Manchester City, is still lagging behind in earnings at 11th place but is poised to qualify for Championship League Status next season which will enrich their coffers.

A.C. Milan, Internationale, and Juventus from the Italian League earn the 7th, 9th and 10th in the earnings hierarchy. Roma has fallen from grace and expectations are that Juventus may very well return to Championship status in the 2011-2012 season.

The Bundesliga has been more frugal in expenditures and the purchase of the world’s top players. Only Bayern Munich with earnings of 323 million pounds is in the company of the plutocrats coming in at 4th place in the earnings hierarchy with Hamburg at 13th place and Schalke is at the 16th place.

The Championship League has become the coveted league, where elephants distance themselves from the grasshoppers. Two elephants, Barcelona and Arsenal meet in the knock-out phase of the Championship League. On Wednesday, February 16, 2011 the teams who comprise the proletariat of the respective leagues will watch and pray for the coming of an oil Sheik.

Let me know what you think?

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