Over the past twenty years, the money involved in football has escalated to an unprecedented degree. A player moving to a club for £50 million has suddenly become the norm and supporters often neglect to get their head around the astronomical figures that engulf the game as we know it today.
Samuel Eto’o holds the current world record for the highest ever wage for a footballer during his tenure at Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala. During this spell, the Cameroonian earned approximately £365,000 a week.
Therefore on a weekly basis, Eto’o could afford the following - although not all at once:
142 Fiat Puntos
36,536 copies of Adele’s new album
976 double glazed windows from Screwfix
45,625 kilograms of Tesco mince beef
16,000 gallons of Asda vegetable oil
And that’s after tax.
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These are incredible statistics when, at the end of the day, these people are tasked to kick a sphere between some sticks. To us, a couple of thousand pounds is a lot of money, yet the highest transfer fee ever paid in football stands at £83.5 million.
So why is football so saturated with currency? It’s popular for a start, the most popular sport in the world. At Old Trafford alone, 75,000 people flock into the ground weekly to see the 'beautiful game'. When you consider the lucrative match tickets at the highest level, exceeding £60 for adults at Arsenal, and you add on food and club-provided transport - from supporters alone the clubs rake in mammoth fees.
This popularity has obviously brought with it branding from huge companies such as Samsung, Emirates, McDonalds and Coca-Cola, never mind the TV rights funding these clubs receive. The passion for football is to such an extent that the latest TV broadcasting deal for the English Premier League received £5.14 billion.
The main complaint people have with such extravagant fees, is that doctors and soldiers are paid less.
From a moral standpoint, this is, of course, completely unjust. Those who save the lives of others are seemingly lower in the wealth pyramid than those who train for just a couple of hours each day, with a ball at their feet.
It is wrong. However, as previously explained, the sheer popularity of football, unfortunately, comes with the consequence of the money in it swelling.
In a way, it’s like a business and whether people like it or not, as long as people continue to flood through the turnstiles on match day then ticket prices, sponsorships and TV rights will lead to player’s pay packets getting bigger and bigger.
It’s an unhealthy cycle ethically, but ok, maybe it is wrong, but at the end of the day it doesn’t do anyone any harm. Whilst there are footballers such as Mario Balotelli who use their wealth to crash cars and host indoor firework displays - they are the minority.
Footballers are talented just like doctors, in extremely different ways, - granted, but if you’re talented at something that is popular then the money will come. Furthermore, the rarer your job is then the higher likelihood is that great wealth comes with it.
There are approximately 4,000 professional footballers in England and 250,000 doctors; subsequently footballers will be paid more. Granted the wage difference is staggering, but this is inevitable. There are so many football fans it’s a guarantee that some will be billionaires and many of which buy clubs.
The government and ourselves - no matter how much we may spite footballers for their riches - can do little to stop a billionaire chucking money at a club which just happens to cause the notes to float down into the players’ pay packets.
Certainly at this moment in time, as exemplified by the Paris attacks, the world is facing greater issues at the moment. There are huge humanitarian efforts in Syria and a lot of abhorrent actions are being carried out.
Whilst certainly the gargantuan wages and transfer fees in football would certainly be better off helping the planet tackle these issues, it is our doing with the popularity we hand it.
Football brings people together and in its own way, does address these issues. In conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq and, in general, poorer nations, you’re never too far away from children playing football.
It’s the most popular sport for a reason. It gives people something in common. It is a language on its own.
Yes, it's drenched in cash, yes doctors should be paid more, but don’t blame the players or clubs when it’s us who showed such support for the format that we gave it the leg up towards a multi-billion pound business.