FIFA has long been a sporting association more famous for their behind-closed-door attitude and corrupt values than supporting football growth around the world. As they look to move away from this image and clean up their worldwide reputation, a vital presidential election has just taken place to decide on a new leader (Gianni Infantino) to revive the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. What everybody involved in the game is asking, though, is will anything actually change? Will FIFA ever again become a totally clean and credible representative of football?
Look back to its roots, and you can find what FIFA was begun to achieve. Founded in 1904 by a number of European countries including France, Belgium and the Netherlands, FIFA was created to bring order to the increasing international fixtures. During the next decade it expanded to comprise Commonwealth countries and Spanish colonies. After a period without British involvement after World War One, the legendary FIFA President Jules Rimet began his record 33-year long stint in charge, building the organisation from small offices in Paris to encompass representatives from 85 countries, 73 more than when he began. Rimet personified everything good in a leader; he was a visionary, creating the very first World Cup in 1930, a socialist (he started a sports club in Paris called Red Star, which specifically accepted people of all classes) and a man of clean ethics (he made his living as a lawyer). He was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1956 after the success of the post-World War Two World Cups. Rimet built FIFA up from the ground; it was his work that had cemented the reputation of the association and the World Cup as the pinnacle of football.
Rimet was followed as President by two Englishmen, Arthur Drewry and Stanley Rous, both former British soldiers in WW1, who were instrumental in the success of the World Cups based in Europe, notably 1966, which obviously was the only World Cup so far to be hosted or won by England. These two presidents didn’t reform the organisation too much, instead continuing Rimet’s good work, expanding the World Cup to include all regions of the world. Rous particularly led FIFA in a very hands-on way, as he was an ex-referee who officiated the 1934 FA Cup Final and rewrote the Laws of the Game, helping make them easier to understand for players and officials alike.
After that, FIFA turned down a slippery slope. Brazilian João Havelange, son of an arms dealer who immigrated from Belgium, took charge after winning the 1974 presidential election with the support of the biggest player in the world at the time, Pelé. His privileged upbringing and background as a Law advisor for large companies in Brazil made him perfect for African, Asian and corrupt Europeans FA members, who wanted somebody who would realise the financial potential in the game. Havelange worked closely with Horst Dassler and Patrick Nally, an Adidas kingpin and a sports marketer respectively, who aided him in confirming Adidas and Coca-Cola, two of the world’s biggest companies, as sponsors of the World Cup. This commercial growth was obvious before Havelange’s reign, but only needed somebody with the heartlessness and mind for money to do it on a large scale. Four years earlier, during the 1970 World Cup Final, Pelé famously asked the referee to hold up the start of the game to tie his shoelaces. The cameras of broadcasters around the world panned down to Pelé’s boots, which were Puma branded, subconsciously convincing millions of young footballers to buy Puma to be like their hero.
Havelange certainly changed FIFA to start it in the direction it has become notorious for recently. He doubled the amount of sides in the World Cup during his reign, founded the Women’s, Under 20’s and Under 17’s World Cups, as well as the Confederations Cup. These tournaments on one hand made international football more accessible, but also made a hell of a lot in sponsorship and coverage rights money. A serious amount of the $440 million made in European television rights payments for the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups was certainly pocketed by Havelange and his advisors, who rewarded their hard work with millions in their bank accounts. This was the birth of FIFA’s dangerously money-orientated and self-centered beliefs. After Havelange decided he finally had enough of presidency in 1998, he found himself a ready-made replacement, a man very close to him at the time, then-General Secretary Sepp Blatter. Blatter, who has aged considerably while in charge, has often painted the figure of a distrustful and secretive man, ambling around the Zurich offices, seeking to make safety pacts with his worldwide delegates.
He never seemed to be far from controversy for all the wrong reasons, including shocking comments on women’s football, John Terry, racism, homosexuality and match-fixing which all drew condemnation from football fans around the globe. This is a man who even unbelievably interrupted a minute’s silence for Nelson Mandela (who died the previous day) at the 2014 World Cup seedings. He was a callous, immoral dictator of an association supposed to represent football, only thinking of the personal gain of himself and his willingly corrupt cronies.
The Swiss has completely tarnished the reputation of FIFA for a generation of football fans, including myself, and left the sport without an honest and trustworthy organisation to head it. A lack of passion or connection with the game was the issue from the very beginning for Blatter, he never showed any remorse for problems concerning football; it was a case of diplomacy and politics for him. Sport should never have anything to do with politics; it was created to be a break from such serious matters. Think of all the young people from the Brazilian favelas, the African villages and the Caribbean islands, who are playing the game with any kind of ball they can find, using concrete walls as goals, carefree fun. Football is played out there on the streets, in the parks, not in the private offices in Zurich. What Blatter did to FIFA and football was an absolute mockery of what football has always stood for, what any sport has ever been played for.
That brings us to the present, where only yesterday the European candidate, Gianni Infantino (another Swiss, bad omens?) won a majority vote in the second round of voting, earning him the FIFA hot seat. In all honesty, Infantino, at least in my opinion, was the best of a bad bunch of candidates, all of whom have worked with Blatter in one capacity or another. Infantino has got the credentials to lead the diplomatic side of things; he is a law graduate, fluent in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish, with experience as the Secretary General of UEFA for nearly 7 years. This counts for nothing now, though, as he needs to sort out the mess at FIFA, as soon as possible. The game deserves a leader and an organisation that represent the feelings of fans, clubs and players alike. He must find out the reasons as to why corruption was allowed so openly as a culture, and stem their flow, ensuring they never are allowed to happen ever again.
Entrusting Infantino with this responsibility was much more well-advised than the pre-vote favourite of Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, who I personally would’ve steered well away from if a FIFA representative. Sheikh Salman is notoriously a wily, quietly powerful man who was another of Blatter’s pawns as Vice Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee. His position was certainly ironic, considering as a member of the inherently affluent Bahraini Royal Family, he has agreed with the state’s death penalty for serious criminals, open in the knowledge that hundreds of people in his country have been killed this way in the last few years. Human Rights activists, who I personally believe we should all be, have accused the Sheikh of “complicity in crimes against humanity”. In 2011, his Bahraini sports committee allegedly imprisoned and tortured around 150 athletes of his own nationality for joining in pro-democracy protests. Is this the kind of leader than a supposedly forward-thinking, changing organisation needed? I think not.
Putting the failed candidates aside, Infantino will know he has a very tough job in the next few years. One thing everybody will want to know from him is why it took interception from the U.S Department of Justice and the Swiss Authorities to actually stop any more foul play happening. Corruption got so ingrained into everybody working there that they had the arrogance to think they would never be found out, but fortunately for us all they were. When added up, the nine FIFA officials arrested received bribes worth £65 million. It’s almost as if every single person involved in the FIFA ethics committee, specifically set up to stop any actions against the organisation’s clearly non-existent ethics, never turned up to any of their meetings, never did any work at all. Now that the outside world has interrupted their slumber, the ethics committee have finally been firing officials left, right and centre in an initiative to revive any integrity FIFA may have left.
For now, we can only wish Gianni Infantino the best of luck as the new de facto head of worldwide football, and hope that he does the right thing in the best interests of the game, taking whatever measures he sees necessary to take back FIFA for the game. He can by no means get close to the work done by Jules Rimet, for he never had to deal with commercial sponsorship, so many different voices or so many ingrained issues. What Infantino should do, though, is seriously assess where FIFA stands as an organisation. Does it want to focus on governing the organisation of International football? Does it want to be a commercial market for hundreds of millions of pounds from sponsors? Does it want to focus on rebuilding its reputation by seriously focusing on the game, by growing from grassroots upwards to make football more accessible? Right now for FIFA, there are far more questions than answers on Infantino’s mind which need addressing. If he wants FIFA to be trusted ever again, he definitely has a very tough task in his first four years of presidency, but it is achievable however bleak it may look right now. If he can clearly prove to us all, the fans, who FIFA are supposed to represent, that in the future the association will be cleared of its blemishes, he will have succeeded in his role.
On Sunday evening, as Aston Villa fans were drowning their sorrows from the embarrassment of a 6-0 loss against Liverpool, they stumbled over a quizzical tweet from Joleon Lescott just 15 minutes after the game. This tweet, in case you somehow hadn’t seen it, consisted of a bold website photo of a silver Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupe, without any caption. Instead of immediately publicly apologising to the clubs fans for the result or keeping quiet for the next few hours, Lescott somehow forgot his media training and unashamedly showed off his new £121,000 supercar which he will drive up to training in. This certainly was a mindless thing to do in the circumstances, but he clearly doesn’t see it that way as the tweet is yet to be deleted, despite the media storm against him. Does this show that footballers are unfairly paid for what they do? More importantly, do they truly take responsibility for their actions?
In our modern world of overwhelming political correctness, footballers are rigorously lectured about how to respond to each and every question any journalist could ever have, creating a lack of individuals in the game today. On Match of the Day every weekend you will hear “It was nice to score, but it was more important to get the win for the team” or “We can’t focus on this game too much, there’s another important one coming up next week”. These clichés for players (and managers who have come through the same system) are somehow the norm today, showing that football clearly wants to get rid of all characters and emotion of their employees, and that is all the players are these days. They aren’t normal people; they are talented, robotic millionaires. They are made to pent up their emotions, which inevitably they will have to release at some point.
The only problem is, the paparazzi are always following these top-level footballers through the city streets of London, Manchester and Birmingham, so any of their mistakes will be shared immediately through social media. So when Jack Grealish or Jack Wilshere are pictured taking laughing gas, or John Ruddy is filmed punching a fellow drunk man, the evidence will be found by their managers, and they will be punished the next day. But do they go out to the bars with their entourages and do it because of frustration or sheer foolishness?
It is very easy to see why people would say that footballers are often very impressionable and unlikeable people, and are more likely to make mistakes. They are massively overpaid, with (by my calculations) the average Premier League player making £69,204 a week this season, which compared to the British average worker earning £25,000 in a whole year is absolutely crazy. It would take the average British worker 140 weeks, or nearly 3 years, to earn the equivalent of a top footballer’s weekly wage. Footballers will never serve such an important role in society to ever earn as much money as that. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that footballers have to push their bodies through around five or six hours of training a day and have numerous media duties to carry out, but that does not add up to 140 times the work of a plumber, a builder, a chef or a business owner who all earn far less. They get around 8 weeks of paid holiday time every season, in which they could earn an average of 11p every second just sitting on the beach in Dubai with their model wives, they drive Ferrari’s or Lamborghini’s and eat at Michelin star restaurants. Not exactly a hard life, is it?
On the other hand, footballers, as they try to keep reminding us, are as much ‘normal people’ as the rest of us, and should be able to wind down and relax the same as anyone else. Managers may not like it, but their players are actually young men who need to live their lives and maybe learn from their mistakes if it makes them a better person. They do this at their own peril though, full in the knowledge that they will be found out, even if they have done nothing serious, as it is a risk that comes with the job.
The problem is, when these young men do live the high life, they believe they can do anything without a consequence, as is the case with many young players. I was watching a BBC Three documentary last year called Footballers, Sex, Money: What’s Gone Wrong? which involved an interview with Harry Redknapp, who admitted that with a leading player at a club “there’s no doubt about it, he’ll get treated differently”. This blunt truth demonstrates just how bereft of good morals football is, as players like the example of Mario Balotelli can get away with setting off fireworks in their bathroom, or throwing darts at an academy player. These acts would be seen as unacceptable for any other young player, so why was Balotelli special, why did he deserve to have a second, third and fourth chance?
This sort of behaviour was first majorly welcomed into the game by the world-renowned beer-guzzling, sombrero-topped figure of George Best, who summed up a carefree culture of teenagers in the 1960’s. We do have to remember that it was an era when drinking pints and smoking a few cigarettes was a regular pre-match ritual, but Best pushed the boundaries of what was possible when he went on national chat shows and proudly talked about his womanising antics. He was legendary for his media-friendly quotes such as “If I had to choose between dribbling past 5 players and scoring from 40 yards at Anfield or shagging Miss World, it’d be a hard choice. Thankfully I’ve done both”. Now these were fine for promoting himself and gaining public support, but in the end he did waste some of his immense talent by ruining his liver with all the glasses of beer and champagne. Overall, he spent too much time away from the training ground, where he could’ve really gone on to be known as the (excuse the pun) best player in the history of football by more than only those who ever saw him play. You wonder how many talents have been wasted to the dark side of fame, the antisocial drinking to try and cure their hidden depression.
With the right management and assistance, though, media attention can be the building blocks of a glittering career. Just look at David Beckham, who has built his own free-kick scoring, underwear modelling, London-based empire of multi-million pound success. He is probably the first name any non-football fan would say as the most famous footballer of the past 20 years; such is his degree of fame in the worlds of fashion, television and charity. He is the remedy in the world of football to the Balotelli’s or John Terry’s, the complete anti-Best figure of footballing royalty, and the perfect example of how to play out your career for any young children.
The percentage of crimes committed by footballers compared to the rest of the population is probably quite low in all honesty, but the more important aspect is how many more headlines are written based on sportsmen. Far more was written about Adam Johnson and Ched Evans compared to other sex offenders in society, Gary O’Neil and Arturo Vidal became more famous than any other speeding drivers and Joleon Lescott has definitely caused the most controversial car tweet in history. The basic fact that football is the most popular sport in the UK immediately results in tabloids wanting the surname of anyone involved in the game, as they need big headlines to sell papers. If you look at it from the perspective of players, managers and directors, tabloid writers are poisonous people to surround yourself with; they were the downfall of George Best, Paul Gascoigne and David Bentley. The players had their own faults, though, they were vulnerable enough to be influenced by fame, it could be argued they ruined their own chances in pursuit of what they thought was best for them.
In the end, the after-hours pursuits of these rich 20-somethings will never be any of our business. We, as the fans, can never be there to tell these footballers that what they are doing might be wrong. But we can chant their names from the stands every Saturday, purely because our happiness for the next week depends on how they kick a ball. It may seem mad when we put it that way, but it is the truth of the matter. The way these sportsmen behave on the pitch is our concern as supporters, but the way they act off of it is not, and that is what we have to teach the tabloids. Leave these young men to sort out their own lives, let them seek help when they need it, teach them to make up for their mistakes. Some of them may make life-changing errors, some may not be so serious, but the media have had such a manipulative role in this, when they seriously shouldn’t have.
As Liverpool fans fought back against their club’s directors and the possibility of having to pay £77 for just one afternoon of top-flight football, fans rightly heralded a victory. But then we saw Borussia Dortmund fans having to fight (by throwing tennis balls onto the pitch) against rising prices at away games in the German Bundesliga, with some costing £55 per game, proving the battle is nowhere near finished. So will top-level clubs listen to us? Might higher television income actually mean cheaper tickets at games?
For so long football was a working man’s game, easily affordable for the masses with grounds often packed out to the rafters, great entertainment for the local fans of their city’s team. Most represented the city they came from, including steel workers in Sheffield, dock workers in Manchester, cobblers of Northampton and iron workforces at West Ham. This is the romanticist’s view of football in England from around 1870 to 1960, the traditional stories we read about yearning for a return to such values. But unfortunately this dream is not achievable in the modern day, as worldwide economies have forced most of the British steel works, the cobblers, the iron works and the docks out of business as they can’t compete on the world scale. There are melting pots of society in every street of London, Liverpool and Birmingham et al, with much more disposable income available for these bankers, IT advisors, marketing directors, shop owners and chefs to spend at the weekend. As a result of higher annual wages, many more people are willing to pay around £50 for tickets to watch their team.
Many fans have lived through his long change, starting with paying around £11 in today’s money to watch a match at the 1966 World Cup and 70p to watch a match at Old Trafford (at the cheapest) in 1976. This has risen steadily over the decades, with most fans accepting the ‘inevitable’ changes, resulting in very rapid prices hikes during the televised, money loaded Premier League era. Match day prices at Manchester United began at £13 average for seating during the 1992/93 season, rose to £20.50 for the 2000/01 season, and now stand at a £42.44 average for adults. So ticket prices have risen over 200% over the past 15 years, despite income from television rights having climbed from £772 million in 2001 to £5.14 billion in 2015, an ascent of 666% income. How this hasn’t meant that ticket prices should fall is completely crazy, as like Alan Shearer (who I think always speaks a lot of sense) declared during Match of the Day last week that teams should “reward fans for their loyalty”.
This problem is definitely most pressing in the English Premier League, where according to the BBC Price of Football survey 2015, currently the cheapest match day ticket is at Aston Villa for £23, and the most affordable season ticket also at Villa Park for £335. Compare this to Arsenal, where the very cheapest season ticket is a staggering £1014, which could make up 4% of the average British worker’s yearly income. To make anyone pay so much for a seat in a stadium of 60,000, which is always packed out, is a complete ploy and cheat of their fans, who somehow remain loyal, sacrificing large chunks of their budgets to support their team. We see this happening across all of England’s top four leagues. This is not what football is about. If they keep making massive profits on ticket sales, food sales and merchandise, while receiving hundreds of millions of pounds from BT Sport and Sky Sports, surely they have enough money to convince Arsene Wenger to spend? Seriously though, why can’t they drop prices and give something back to supporters, like Alan Shearer says?
Other European leagues certainly don’t have such a vast problem. Some of the biggest clubs in the world are easily affordable for such a great experience, such as Barcelona, where the cheapest ticket sets you back only £17.16, Benfica for only £6.72, or Anderlecht, consistently one of the best sides in Belgium, for a meagre £3.73. These cheap tickets are part of a range of prices available at large European clubs, designed as a part of their culture to make football available for everybody in the local area, no matter their budget. I believe the Premier League needs to set up an initiative like this, focusing on not alienating people from lower income backgrounds from football across the nation. At this moment in time, big English clubs are far too self-obsessed and greedy (which is a phrase thrown around all too easily, but not in this case), resulting in tickets only becoming accessible on a regular basis for those in highly-paid jobs, a minority in society.
Picture corporate boxes full of celebrities, long-time members in Oxford Street suits, uber-rich businessmen and friends of billionaire owners, all ignoring the football on display on the pitch at somewhere like Stamford Bridge. Or Old Trafford. Or the Emirates. Now imagine all of those small sections of society packing out stadiums of top-flight clubs. It is very difficult to believe that football could ever get like this, but if prices keep rising across the board, it could easily be the future. More and more fans will arrive from their high-end apartments in Shanghai, New York, Moscow and Singapore, arrive at Premier League grounds, buy half-and-half scarves, accept sky-high food prices and post pictures of ‘their team’ on Instagram afterwards. Only the richest of the rich affording to go to the game. And as long as the international squad of players are each paid their £250,000 a week, the clubs don’t care who comes through the gates. They know there will always be people able to afford it, and that is what their fundamental problem is.
Directors and Chairmen are clearly not in touch with the clubs fans, so they need to be shown a clear message that we will not accept their careless and callous behaviour at our clubs. After all, fans are the bedrock of any club; upset them at your own peril, demean them and you will fall. So by no means has the fight against ticket prices run its course, in fact it has only just begun. So if fans keep walking out of matches, keep throwing tennis balls onto the pitch, chant at the directors, boycott matches and organise marches against rising prices, we will achieve our goals. We are going to have to make them listen to our voices.
Earlier this week, while most were focusing on the end of the English transfer window, a seismic statement of intent was sent to the rest of the world when the Chinese record spending on a single signing was broken an unbelievable three times in 10 days. This began last week, when Ramires joined Jiangsu Suning from current EPL champions Chelsea for a hefty £25 million, followed by Jackson Martinez moving to Guangzhou Evergrande for £31 million. The spending culminated in the £38.4 million paid for the services of Alex Teixeira by Jiangsu Suning again, willing to pay more than world-famous Liverpool to get his signature. So is the Chinese league ready to be taken seriously on the world stage? And how does it compare to the steady rise of the MLS in America?
We have to travel back through Chinese football history to discover the core behind the mass spending of China’s big city sides in the modern day. Founded in 1987, the semi-professional Jia-A League was a modest, inferior sporting competition in such a large country to widely practiced sports such as athletics, swimming or table tennis. Football was yet to be supported or promoted by the government, who along with the majority of the population didn’t care for the western devised sport (even though the Chinese FA now claim their country were the first to invent an early version of football). By 1994, though, the national FA had imposed rulings for all Jia-A League sides to have turned professional, contracting all their players, and becoming owned by large state-backed or privately owned businesses.
Despite this move, for a number of years following no real big-name players were attracted to China, as wages could not compete with the tens of thousands of pounds a week in Europe. So in 2004, the Chinese Jia-A League reformed and rebranded as the Chinese Super League. It started with 12 professional sides and few foreign players, but with the ambition to attract world-class talent in both players and managers, expand sponsorship opportunities and create high standard facilities across the country’s biggest urban areas. In the six years following the establishment of the league, there were hardly any trees being torn up in world football, with only the merging, promotions and relegations of a few sides to speak of.
In 2011, though, a new breed of big names was swiftly brought in to repair the reputation of the league after a match-fixing scandal, with three vice-presidents arrested. Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka were both brought in by Shanghai Shenhua in 2012, infamous Nigerian Yakubu was signed by Guangzhou R&F and former Italy manager Marcello Lippi took charge of Guangzhou Evergrande. These were all signals of intent to drag ever-increasing Chinese viewers of European leagues back into their own country’s football. In the election of President Xi Jinping in China in 2013, Chinese football found a supreme advocate for the expansion of the game in their nation. Jinping is well known for his love and support of the game, even visiting Manchester City on his official tour of Britain last year. Attendances of games have increased since he assumed office, league sponsorship money increased from ￥65 million to ￥150 million per season and the dominance of foreign players has spanned even further, with much younger and valuable European or South American players.
It is obvious to any economist (I do not claim to be one in any way) that the sporting markets, such as those in football, are definitely widened by economic success. This begs the question why China and the USA haven’t had more success in terms of worldwide significance in football. Quite simply, their national psyche and culture hasn’t yet been significantly impacted by British and European football tradition anywhere near as much as South America, Africa or Australia. Because the USA and China were never successfully invaded by any foreign navies, they never became exposed to our minor continental culture points such as sport, whereas most other continents were impacted, proven by South America’s continual success in the World Cup. They have been the only continent to actually disrupt Europe’s domination of the tournament, mostly as a result of clubs set up by Spanish, British and Irish migrants across Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, such as Corinthians or Newell’s Old Boys (Lionel Messi’s first club).
This is where the eternal optimists at the forefront of the founding of the MLS and the Chinese Super League come in. They have seen the financial success of European football, and want to buy into that vision, proving the doubters wrong. And there have certainly been a lot of doubters. But it is the talent they have managed to convince to support their efforts that have really made the difference. Just look at the example of David Beckham, who has been a part of the rise in both the USA as a player and future owner, and in China as a national football ambassador, a position he has held since 2013. Back in 2007, Beckham joined LA Galaxy, creating a massive shock when he announced the news six months before, when still at Real Madrid, as he was arguably one of the top three most famous footballers at the time. He earned $6.5 million a year for his troubles at Galaxy, bringing mass media attention to the previously ignored MLS, turning the world spotlight on it overnight.
This is how the league officials were, and still are, very tactically astute, as they use their fledgling status to attract big names with large pay packages. It’s a simple business initiative; invest highly in the beginning to establish a bedrock profit, then capitalise on it by persuading current customers to invite their friends; build it and they will come. This worked with the MLS, with Beckham followed by Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Robbie Keane. This has been followed by New York City FC, arguably a retirement home for spent talent or a super club on a small scale, having signed David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard as their ‘Designated Players’ in the last few years. These clubs certainly generate plenty of income for up-and-coming brands, but some may argue they disturb the development of local talent. In the MLS, some clubs in fact opt out of blowing their budgets, which could be used on academy facilities, on pricey foreign players. For example, Philadelphia Union’s only Designated player, Maurice Edu, who is only on such a contract because he has played in Europe before, has represented the US national side in the past. In addition, D.C United and Columbus Crew also use only one spot, for lesser-known, higher-skilled South American players, compared to New York or LA Galaxy who shell out millions for superstars.
But the MLS, and the Chinese Super League, are contentious leagues for many across the world. From my perspective, the thing I can deal with are the MLS players, such as Lampard or Steven Gerrard, who are clearly there for the low-intensity matches and positive career-prolonging move for them at an old age. What I can’t take are the highly-paid, self-motivated agents convincing quality players such as Ramires, Paulinho and Jackson Martinez (even Demba Ba, Fredy Guarin, Gervinho and Asamoah Gyan) to leave Europe where they can play at the top of their game and create a legacy. Instead, they follow the astronomical fees of Chinese football, funded by state-backed billionaires, leeching on wages around or above the £227,000 a week earned by Gyan at Shanghai SIPG. This is why agents get such a bad reputation in football, and often prove they deserve it. If that is the way they want to play football, let them see how far it will take them, because eventually someone will stand up for what is right. Football is not meant to be a money game, and we have to maintain that belief for the good of the sport.
Author - Will Hugall
Now a BA Journalism student at Nottingham Trent University, I divide my time between my base in Radford and back home in East Sussex while watching as much football as I can!