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Nobody asked me but…How do you spell mafia in Europe?

| By iGB Editorial Team
The recent scandals engulfing football’s governing bodies bears out the adage that power does indeed corrupt and “seeming” absolute power corrupts absolutely, according to Mickey Charles. However, it won’t take long for the punters to wipe the slate clean and move on, he argues.

FIFA! The governing body of possibly the world’s most popular sport has, for the most part, and for decades past, governed soccer as if it was laden with indentured slave labour of sorts, with only rare exceptions. Meanwhile, offshore accounts, shelters of any sort and bank vaults that became laden with riches all blossomed at the expense of the credibility of the sport. And the lack of true sharing with those raising interest levels, attendance, purchases of every sort and, lest we forget, broadcast revenue, took place for the deserving few on the pitch.

Payback time! And, when it became evident that there was more than enough to go around that, apparently, did not matter. Have a look – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two highest paid footballer  in the world by far with their after-tax salary contracts with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Surely FIFA executives could well have enjoyed a luxuriant lifestyle without keeping their hands in the cookie jar.

So why a piece on this topic? Because yours, ours, is a world of sports and gaming to a rather significant degree. Do you just watch, root and wave your colours about, enjoying the action on the field sans any financial interest in the outcome? I would strongly urge that approach at present, if it has been otherwise.

Sliding scales

Advantaging the players as simple serfs is almost equally true of cricket and rugby (not quite re executives dipping into the till but in how they do not pay athletes) but those sports have to be put aside for another day when it will be time to address the literal wage scale of outstanding athletes very loyal to the sport they enjoy and which they take to new heights annually. For now, back to the folks that are involved with soccer, and Ronaldo and Lionel Messi unique contracts with their respective clubs where they are paid salaries after tax. Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid back in 2009 for a world record fee and became the highest paid player in the world when he signed new fiveyear deal with Real Madrid back in 2013 that will keep him at Madrid until 2018. This five-year contract is worth £76 million in total and he will be paid £288,000 a week after tax, which means he costs Real Madrid a handsome £30 million a year.

When Ronaldo signed this deal, Barcelona also facilitated Messi with a new financially improved contract in 2014, which will keep the star at Camp Nou ‘til 2018. His new contract will earn him as much as £275,000 a week after tax. That is €20 million a year (£14.5 million), and this is after-tax numbers, making him the second highest paid player in the world behind Cristiano Ronaldo. These two are in a league of their own both on the pitch and off it as well. They have highly lucrative endorsement deals almost doubling their yearly incomes.

Who are the other footballers with big salaries? Well, the top 15 highest paid players list has three representing Barcelona, three Real Madrid, three Manchester United and three Man City. PSG has Zlatan and Thiago Silva, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is also in the top 15 highest paid players. Deserved or obscene? And, if the teams can afford to do this, they can also pay others (non-players) more than enough to live the proverbial “good life”, so why not share in same and not give way to excessive greed? Al Capone, where are you when sanity is needed to organize and then turn things over to Meyer Lansky to handle, regulate and dole out?

Cooking the books

Game fixing has, for all intent and purposes, been eliminated but not “cooking the books.” Shame. FIFA, football’s world governing body, has been engulfed by claims of widespread corruption since the summer of 2015, when the US Department of Justice indicted several top executives.

It has now claimed the careers of two of the most powerful men in football, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini, after they were banned for eight years from all football-related activities by FIFA’s ethics committee. A Swiss criminal investigation into the pair is also continuing.

Blatter has always denied anywrongdoing, but, in September, he too was made the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation, launched alongside the US inquiry. The scandal erupted in May, with a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich and the arrest of seven FIFA executives – conducted at the behest of the US authorities. The beat goes on and on.

FIFA is the body responsible for running world football. It has itself also been dogged by accusations of corruption, particularly after awarding the 2022 World Cup to the tiny, but rich and influential, Gulf state of Qatar. In December 2014, FIFA chose not to release its own investigation into corruption, instead releasing an executive summary which it said exonerated the bidding process. The report’s independent author, American lawyer Michael Garcia, resigned in protest.

The World Cup is the most-watched sporting event in the world, larger even than the Olympics. It generates billions of dollars in revenue from corporate sponsors, broadcasting rights and merchandising. These arrests and investigations cast doubt over the transparency and honesty for the process of allocating World Cup tournaments, electing its president, and the administration of funds, including those earmarked for improving football facilities in some of FIFA’s poorer member countries.

The whole situation is messy at best and comes from an organization rife with ridiculous threats about use of their logo, announcements that are newsworthy, scoring and statistical updates, not to mention newsworthy items, and more.

Power does corrupt and “seeming” absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is a simple and near credible, without question, postulate. Mix with avarice, greed, unwarranted pomposity, stirred…not shaken, and the tale assumes the results of when ego overshadows common sense and runaway interpretations of what is truth and what is fabrication.

FIFA was run by men acting like greedy thugs, considering themselves untouchable. Not!! The problem, one of many that all this has caused, is that guilt by association will likely come into play. On the other hand, sports fans worldwide are the most forgiving folks on the planet. The games go on, suspicions fade away, the lesson has been learned by most, if not all. Odds will be posted, players and punters will believe a whitewash has taken place, the slate is clean and what time do we to go to the pub to watch the games this afternoon? Give me two hundred quid on Manchester United!!

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