Sunday, 7 September 2008

Detached from Reality

I've never been a fan of football (soccer to any Americans reading this). When it comes to sports I like rugby and cricket - and I will admit American Football. But for some reason soccer never got me. When I was a kid I never minded it all that much - although any attraction I had for it melted away as my childhood ended.

But in recent years I've grown in despair more and more about it as a sport. And the reason for this is nothing to do with it as a sport. It's the fact that football seems to have become a glamour sport. From the outside it gives the appearance of being more about hairdos, tattoos and image. Oh, and money.

And today I saw something that appalled me - and before anyone criticises what I am about to type I realise that the following is just a rumour. The BBC website is reporting that Manchester City's new owner will make an offer for their neighbour Manchester United's star player Cristiano Ronaldo said to be in the region of GBP 135 MILLION.

This is obscene in my opinion. Even if it is not true it is the fact that people are talking about this kind of sum as a transfer fee that makes it obscene. Never mind any mention of the number of people in countries around the world who are starving, have inadequate health care, no access to clean, safe water etc etc etc. In the UK there are thousands, if not millions, of people who are struggling in these days of high fuel and food prices, so the talk of paying over one hundred million pounds for a single player devalues the whole sport (for me).

Now I am not saying soccer is alone in this. Cricket is starting to see a massive influx of money. The Indian Permier League offers players hundreds of thousands of pounds for a few short weeks of work. And this autumn sees the Stanford matches in the Carribean with a ten million dollar winner takes all set up. I can see the sense in the argument that top players must be rewarded for what they do. I get it that sportsmen's careers being short and that they need to make a lifetime's worth of money. But top footballer can earn five, six or seven times the average UK yearly salary in a single week. And this is before any consideration of sponsorship deals - or publishing deals.

And it's not just sport that worries me with money. Art is another area. I like art - I have a large collection of books on art. I like the Old Masters, I like Impressionism, the Surrealists, Modern Art etc etc. However every time another painting goes up for auction I grimace. When the headlines hit saying tens of millions have been paid for a Monet, a Turner, a Jackson Pollack, Klimt, Picasso, Rubens etc.

It just seems mad.

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