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Kiliana Mbape’s saga shows that the power of football lies in the players, not the clubs Football


So whose side you are in the aftermath of Killian Mbape’s decision to stay Paris Saint-Germain? Watching the outrage in Spain, when the press accuses the Frenchman of lack of class and La Liga classifies the deal as “scandalous”, raised eyebrows. But not as much as PSG, which was able to get 200 million euros plus a package for the best player in the world – despite a loss of 224 million euros last year.

There are no good guys here, just gnawing concern that the laws of economic gravity are being violated further damaging the game we love. As La Liga expressed an unprecedented attack, the transfer showed that state-owned clubs, such as Qatari’s PSG, “do not respect and do not want to respect the rules of such an important sector as football” and that “sporting integrity” has been at stake.

These are big claims, and La Liga has backed them by vowing to file a complaint with UEFA and the EU. However, Real Madrid is hardly an example of virtue in this area. Last year they were central in European Super League projectthat threatened the sporting integrity of European football far more than the fact that Mbape remained at PSG. Recently they too have been one of four Spanish clubs to which the EU’s highest court has ordered to pay millions of euros after he ruled, they enjoyed state aid.

PSG have privately shunned attacks from La Liga, and one of the leaders insisted that his loss of 224 million euros was allowed under current UEFA rules of financial fair play, which were weakened by the pandemic. It is also known that at a meeting of the board of PSG this month it became clear that Lionel Messi earned the club 15 million euros last season, even after all his expenses were taken into account.

The message was clear. Yes, the Mbape deal is insanely expensive. But the club believes that it can return the money and comply with the new rules of UEFA’s financial fair play, which will come into force in 2025.

Probably. But cynics will hope the rules are more robust than in the previous incarnation, which proved easier to circumvent than the Maginot Line – among those found guilty, PSG and Manchester City. There are also well-founded fears that state clubs are creating inflationary pressures in the transfer market, while the huge influence of PSG general manager Nasser al-Helaifi on UEFA and the European Club Association is also impossible to ignore.

In my opinion, however, the reaction to Mbape’s new deal goes beyond understandable disgust to the sovereign wealth funds that run the clubs. It’s also about how easy it is for teams to solidify their advantage and destroy leagues. Would anyone oppose PSG who have won eight of their last 10 Ligue 1 titles by winning next year? And in a year? Or Munich’s Bayern, which has won 10 Bundesliga titles in a row, another march?

PSG fans praise Kilian Mbape’s “wonderful” decision to stay at PSG – video

Of course, there are exceptions – look at Manchester United. But while English football is certainly more unpredictable, which was again seen on the dramatic final day, Manchester City still won four Premier League titles in five years and only eight clubs finished in the top three in the last 25 years. . Eight! – the same number as in the first five years of the Premier League between 1992-93 and 1996-97, when Norwich, Blackburn and Aston Villa competed for the title.

Data from the Sporting Intelligence website, which tracks the salaries of players in various leagues and sports, shows that there is a close link between the amount a club spends on wages and where they end up in the table. But it should not be so.

In the US, where wage limits, luxury taxes and drafts for college players ensure that the major leagues remain spicy and challenging, the difference is sharp. The Major League Baseball has had eight World Series winners over the past decade and five more teams have finished second. In other words, 13 of the 30 MLB teams competed for the biggest prize in the sport in the last 10 years.

Meanwhile in the NHL 14 of the league’s 32 clubs have played in the Stanley Cup final since 2012. In the NFL, that number is 13 out of 32, with some teams moving from too-wounds to Super Cup contenders in a couple of years.

Interestingly, however, the lack of competitive balance in football did not affect the game’s popularity. One explanation based on detailed analysis of economists’ data by Dr. Babatunde Buraimo and Rob Simmonsis that TV viewers are much less interested in watching competitive matches than they used to be – and instead they want big names, regardless of the opposition.

And now there is no one bigger than Mbape. According to one football manager I spoke to, the deal underscores an even greater shift in power in favor of players, most of whom are happy to deliberately cut their contracts to get all the money from the new deal.

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This chapter also noted that Mbape makes sense to wait and play with PSG and Real Madrid. And also for PSG to pay a huge registration fee and not sign another player from a rival club.

It’s hard to argue with that. But whether such horrible football free-kick will be useful for others is a completely different question.


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