Has football become a game where winning matches or even trophies does not matter?
The agreement with the Ronaldo situation was that all around this has been a sound economic exchange. BBC Sport’s Chief Football writer Phil McNulty makes that point. Manchester United made a handsome profit. Real Madrid made a commercial campaign with the likes of Kaka and Ronaldo by selling as much merchandise as possible with the club brand. One even wonders if it really matters that Real Madrid won any trophies. We can speculate that not winning any trophies would bring more attention and thus fame to the club than winning anything.
Has football become a game where winning matches or even trophies does not matter? A quick glance over the Deloitte Football Money League (2009) suggests so. Take a look at the league and you will find teams that won no trophies such as Fenerbahçe, a newcomer. But from the point of view of the two clubs, apparently a sound investment has been made. So Ronaldo proved his worth and made lots of money for himself and his clubs.
What we are watching is no longer football on the field. It is an entertainment business off the field.
What is wrong with this picture is that the globalisation of football markets created massive inequalities and excess. While it may have created a more equal national competition, as Milanovic (2005) argues, it has created unprecedented inequalities amongst football clubs and footballers as Kesenne (2007) illustrates. Rather than dealing with these inequalities, the trend has been to seek investment from elsewhere - as Frick (2007) shows - to remain competitive and close the gap opened by these inequalities. This only intensifies the process, increases inequalities and fails to curb massive excesses that have been created. What we are watching is no longer football on the field. It is an entertainment business off the field. It is a strange game with no scruples or qualms. Since it is now built on massive inequalities it also blinds us to inequality as such. We read about millions suffering from starvation, disease, hunger and malnutrition around the world and watch without guilt a game that massively participates in creating such spectacular inequalities. We don’t see them as related. We have become immune to football’s excesses and the inequalities it creates and ignores.