The risks of the "financial doping" of Europe's top football leagues.
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.
Read the original article in French