“Greed is Good” – Gordon Gekko.
Heck if THE Gekko himself believes that Greed is Good, then who are you and me to say anything to the contrary? We are all born brave, trusting and greedy, and most of us remain greedy. Greed is a common denominator in the current world. Nobody is exempted from it – including the footballers.
It’s fun to be a football fan, isn’t it? Every season, we swear and rant and moan and jump in joy based on our club’s fortunes. We think of ourselves as unequaled pundits of the game – quick to offer views, analyses and drink in our daily dose of gossip. We are the first to lynch Arsene Wenger if Cesc Fabregas leaves Arsenal for his boyhood club and we were the first to immortalize him when his team went unbeaten for a whole season. Another subject which is very dear to us is Loyalty, or the apparent lack of it.
We loved to re-brand Chelsea as Chelski once Roman Abramovich bought the club and pumped in millions into the club and Manchester United as ManUSA at the start of the Glazers’ regime. The start of every season, especially the transfer window is most dearest to us. We could see the message boards flood up with comments, mostly negative ones from fans of other clubs, if a club goes ahead and splashes money on a player. We are ready to call the players out on their greediness and happily term them mercenaries. A lot of my Arsenal friends were up in arms once it became clear that Samir Nasri would not sign a contract extension with the club and instead was desperate for a move to Manchester City.
It was clear that no improved offer from Arsenal would sway his mind as the player knew that he could earn twice the £90,000 a week, the Gunners were offering. As this move was unfolding, Samuel Eto’o was on his way to Russia to finalize a gob-smacking £320,000 a week deal to play for the Caucasian side Anzhi Macachkala. Anzhi, bankrolled by billionaire Suleyman Kerimov had no qualms obliterating the wage records to get, in all fairness, the most high profile player ever to play in the Russian Premier League. Anzhi also has splashed cash on Roberto Carlos and Yuri Zhirkov and currently sit 4th in the Russian Premier League. Kerimov’s vision is to improve the profile of the Dagestan region, where he was born and raised and where Anzhi is located, by providing the locals with a successful football team and a spanking new stadium, thereby enabling jobs and revenue. How much of that dream is going to get fulfilled, only time will tell us.
But, ah! we don’t care about that. We are football fans. We have to call out on Eto’o ‘s and Nasri’s and Javier Pastore’s greediness, right? How dare they even think of earning such gargantuan salaries, while we toil around in our 9 to 5 jobs, moaning to having to pay for the increasing prices of the season tickets and cable subscriptions? Where is the loyalty in the game today? Doesn’t Arsenal deserve a smidgen of gratitude for developing Nasri’s game and profile? Wouldn’t a premier marksman like Eto’o want to compete at the highest level? Why did Thierry Henry scuttle off to NY Red Bulls for a big final payday, while instead he could have come back to the English Premier League and improved the profile of a club like, say Bolton Wanderers or Blackburn Rovers? What made the much-traveled Robbie Keane to term his move to MLS a ‘dream move’?
I, as an individual, have absolutely no qualms about this apparent lack of loyalty from the footballers. I’m a marketing professional earning roughly around £14,000 per annum. Though this might sound meagre compared to wages elsewhere, but from where I come from, this is more than sufficient for me to live a very comfortable life in a good neighborhood. In fact, I’m one of the top tier wage earners amongst professionals. But am I content? Am I absolutely and unequivocally loyal to my current organization? Hell NO! In my eight years of service, I have shifted four jobs and am currently on the look out for the fifth. Am I greedy? Absolutely. If I could be called greedy for believing I’m worth more than what I’m being paid for, then yeah, I prefer to be this way all day long. I see the likes of Nasri thinking that he could earn much more at a cash rich club and I actually don’t think he’s wrong.
Footballers don’t have the career duration like most of us. So, they cannot be blamed for trying to make a quick buck before they hang up their boots or if they are forced to quit the game prematurely, like Ruben de la Red who hung up his boots at the age of 25 due to a heart ailment. Ofcourse, they earn in a week what most of us fail to earn in a full year. But this alone doesn’t make them above all of us humans in being greedy. It’s not the footballers alone who are greedy. Take cricketers for example. They are ready to quit their international careers to play for the money rich IPL and other similar T/20 tournaments. If you follow cricket, then I’m sure you would understand what I’m talking about.
If Eto’o decides to earn £320,000 a week by playing in Russia, more power to him.