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European Soccer: Winning With Money You Don’t Have

European Soccer: Winning With Money You Don’t Have

The risks of the "financial doping" of Europe's top football leagues.

(Nigel Wilson)


The ever-wise Frederic Thiriez, President of France's professional soccer leagues, recently offered a biting observation that deserves attention. Legendary player Michel Platini, who today heads European soccer's governing body UEFA, was presenting a prize to Raymond Kopa, the star French striker of Stade de Reims and Real Madrid in the 1950s and 1960s. It was the perfect occasion to compare the financial scope of big clubs then and now.

It should be noted that this moving ceremony took place just days after English clubs faced off in a fierce competition to acquire some of the world's most renowned players. Chelsea ended up buying Spanish world champion Fernando Torres for 60 million euros from Liverpool, just as Chelsea was announcing an 82 million euro deficit.

Arsene Wenger, the French coach of Arsenal, one of the other top London clubs, immediately denounced the "financial doping" afflicting the sport. But Thiriez went even further. He said that professional soccer was "heading toward a brick wall if it continued trying to win trophies with money it didn't have."

English soccer has wracked up a huge 4 billion euro debt; in France the sport faces a 150 million euro shortfall; and even German soccer, long thought to be more rigorous about its finances, has accumulated a 100 million euro deficit.

"Winning with money we don't have." Does it remind you of something? Isn't it similar to the futures bets played on financial markets, in which investors hope to make a profit on the forward sale of a product that has not yet been purchased? Thiriez deeply regrets that professional soccer is using the financial markets' most objectionable speculative practices. Platini shares his feeling. We wish them luck in their showdown against the empty billions of European soccer.

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Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Noel, a Cuban engineer who had to emigrate to the faraway island of Saint Lucia, tells about the Cuban government's systematic intimidation techniques and coercion of its professionals abroad. He now knows he can never go back to his native island — lest he should never be allowed to leave Cuba again.

Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Next stop, Saint Lucia

Laura Rique Valero

Daniela* was just one year old when she last played with her father. In a video her mother recorded, the two can be seen lying on the floor, making each other laugh.

Three years have passed since then. Daniela's sister, Dunia*, was born — but she has never met her father in person, only connecting through video calls. Indeed, between 2019 and 2023, the family changed more than the two little girls could understand.

"Dad, are you here yet? I'm crazy excited to talk to you."

"Dad, I want you to call today and I'm going to send you a kiss."

"Dad, I want you to come for a long time. I want you to call me; call me, dad."

Three voice messages which Daniela has left her father, one after the other, on WhatsApp this Saturday. His image appears on the phone screen, and the two both light up.

The girls can’t explain what their father looks like in real life: how tall or short or thin he is, how he smells or how his voice sounds — the real one, not what comes out of the speaker. Their version of their dad is limited to a rectangular, digital image. There is nothing else, only distance, and problems that their mother may never share with them.

In 2020, Noel*, the girls' father, was offered a two-to-three-year employment contract on a volcanic island in the Caribbean, some 2,000 kilometers from Cuba. The family needed the money. What came next was never in the plans.

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