A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Like most North Americans, I watch fútbol (soccer) every four years. I go World Cup crazy like everybody else on this planet, but when it’s over, I go back to regular sports … mostly football (football) and hockey. It’s not that I don’t like fútbol; I do. As a spectator sport, it’s got it all. The joy of victory, the agony of defeat, sweat, testosterone, talented young men doing incredible things with their balls, wives and girlfriends so hot they could resurrect the libido of a dead man, and, of course, billionaire owners, buying and selling players like it’s a Zanzibar auction. Which brings us to the reason I’m even talking about fútbol in the dead air of August.
It’s all very complicated, but here’s the decaf version.
There’s a player called Neymar (apparently, really good fútbol players are only allowed one name — i.e. Ronaldo, Messi, etc.) who’s changing teams — from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain. No big deal, right? Except this involves buying out his contract. And get this! His contract is worth 222 million Euros (263 million dollars!) WTF! That’s more than the entire payroll of the New York Yankees — the winningest franchise in sports history. It’s more than the national debt of Haiti. It’s unbelievable! Hell, there’s probably a lab in China where you could have an entire team biologically built — from scratch — for that price. I’m not kidding! Not only that, but once he gets to Paris St-Germain (PSG) they’re going to pay him 40 million Euros a year to play. That’s over €100,000 a day — every day — including Christmas. Double WTF! But — for serious grins — when the lawyers showed up with a suitcase full of money to purchase Neymar’s services, the Spanish League initially wouldn’t accept it. They said it violated Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules. Financial Fair Play? Guys, the cash in this contract could feed every man, woman and child in Mali for a year or more. Financial fair play has nothing to do with it. Besides, think about it. Uefa’s governing body is FIFA; these are the boys who could give shyster lessons to the Russian Mafia. Trust me! They wouldn’t know fair play if it bit them on the bum.
Actually, I have nothing against anybody making as much money as possible from their talents. So, despite the fact I think it’s obscene, if PSG wants to pay 40 million Euros for a kid to kick a ball every once in a while, I have no objections. Good on ya, Neymar! The reason I don’t watch fútbol is I simply don’t understand how it works. I can’t follow all the different leagues, all the different teams and all the different games. I never know who’s doing what with whom or why. So, I wait — and every four years, when people start waving flags I recognize, I cheer — ’cause that’s what I understand — like most people in North America.