The protracted transfer saga involving one of football’s most electrifying players came to a close earlier this week. The uncertainty over Neymar Jr.’s future in football kept fans at the mercy of news outlets, gossip columns and sports blogs for weeks on end.
After a seemingly never-ending display of salacious gossip, involving Instagram selfies, training pitch bust-ups, and assured claims of loyalty, Neymar Jr. managed to successfully engineer a €222 Million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain. His decision was ultimately tied to his desire to step out of the shadows of his idol, Lionel Messi, and seal his own legacy while leading a Brazilian revolution at Parc Des Princes. It was only four years ago when Neymar Jr. made the coveted switch from Brazilian club Santos FC to FC Barcelona for a then eye-opening €88,20 Million. The numbers suggest a valuation increase of €33,45 Million per annum, or put into simpler terms, a staggering €91,643 per day playing for the Blaugrana.
Prior to Neymar Jr.’s switch to the French Capital, the highest transfer in the history of the sport involved Paul Pogba’s return back to Manchester United for a whopping €105 Million last year. Cristiano Ronaldo, widely considered the best footballer today, was involved in his own record breaking €94,00 Million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid back in 2009. Word of a £125 Million move for 18-year-old French phenom Kylian Mbappé to Arsenal FC once ruminated at the start of this years transfer window. This record-breaking transfer fee trend will only rise as clubs are increasingly under pressure to please shareholders and fans alike, and a seemingly endless supply of youthful talent continues to emerge onto the main stage. As I’ve been following this year’s transfer market, I’ve been asking myself the same questions over and over again:
- Can this money be better invested somewhere else?
- Are we to blame for this incredible rise in player valuations?
As fans of the sport, we often spend our hard-earned money on the latest video games, player-sponsored athletic gear, cable subscriptions with sports packages, tickets to live events, and player-inspired hair products, and even luxurious hotel stays to live like our favorite footballer.
We tend to idolize the sport and its greatest champions, envying every glorious moment that is spent on the pitch. We sometimes want to dress, look and live like the real deal in order to be part of the experience itself. I, myself, am no exception to this rule: In my closet sits an official Team Belgium jersey with ‘Hazard’ printed in large letters on it’s back, purchased during a 2016 trip ahead of the Euro competition. The €110 I impulsively spent on the jersey felt a little silly after Team Belgium’s underwhelming performance during Euro 2016, especially considering that it will sit in its barely-used state until football’s next great showcase in a year’s time.
I recently had the privilege of attending a Copa Del Rey match involving Real Madrid earlier this year. My post on this subject can be found here. While I was lucky enough to have been gifted the ticket through the generosity of another human being, I couldn’t help but think of the price that another may have gladly paid for a front row seat during a high-profile event at one of the footballing world’s largest venues.
By participating in the sports economy, we, on the aggregate, are directly contributing to an inflation in club and player valuations, which in turn raises the price of related goods and services sold to us in the first place. This inflation will only continue to grow as more individuals, fueled by today’s youth, adopt football as their sport of choice. Ultimately, we acquiesce that their talents have significantly greater monetary value and societal merit than our own everyday contributions.
The talents of a footballer are truly incredible to watch, support, and emulate. However, there comes a moment in time when we have to think to ourselves whether if a particular human being can be worth €222 Euro. If the answer is ‘no’, there is something we can do about it.
We need to look no further than ourselves in order to find a solution. We can stop supporting the flow of money into mechanisms that feed the clubs, and ultimately, the players themselves. By divesting our investments from sports into other interests will undoubtedly get noticed by the industry, while contributing to a greater health in the overall economy.
In the end, voting with our wallets speaks louder than voting with our words.