Football and money

Image: Karolina Grabowska
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By FRANCISCO FERNANDES LADEIRA*

Football has become a business even in terms of results. Often, the one with the most money wins.

According to a well-known saying, money does not bring happiness. However, in the football scene in recent years, money has, in some way, brought happiness; at least for the fans of clubs that have enough resources to invest in signing the best players.

It is no coincidence that in the recently concluded Brazilian Championship, the three most expensive squads in the country – Flamengo, Palmeiras and Atlético Mineiro – were among the top four. Furthermore, the last national champion not belonging to this “billionaire” trio was Corinthians, in 2017.

At a subcontinental level, the fact that Brazil has won the last five editions of the Copa Libertadores da América can also be explained by financial power, as our clubs, in addition to repatriating players who played in Europe (unlike Argentines and Uruguayans, as well fewer resources), have hired athletes who stand out in other South American countries. Thus, at the same time as they strengthen themselves, they weaken their rivals.

In Europe, where astronomical amounts are invested in the most popular sport on the planet, the differences between clubs are even greater. This reflects the fact that the main leagues and tournaments on the continent are dominated by a few clubs, such as Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

In world tournaments, when the main teams from Europe (true “world teams”) and South America face each other, European dominance is clear. After all, since 2013, the Club World Cup has only been won by teams from the Old Continent.

This does not mean, of course, to say that European players are better than their South American counterparts (suffice it to mention, for example, that the last world champion is Argentina).

In other times, when football was not yet so globalized and monetary power was not unbalanced, South American clubs, in general, were better than those in Europe (given the advantage in the number of victories in international tournaments, recorded until the 1990s).

Recalling the title of a famous song, performed by American singer Cyndi Lauper, “money changes everything” (money changes everything). In the case discussed in this text, even football changes, no longer as “unpredictable” as it once was. Those who have money, invest massively, have the best players and, consequently, win the main tournaments.

*Francisco Fernandes Ladeira is a doctoral candidate in geography at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of The ideology of international news (CRV). [https://amzn.to/49F468W]


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