There is a truth to football. A purity, an intensity and a spirit which makes it irresistible to take part in and watch.

From the point of view of those ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese who played the earliest form of football, the current nature of the beautiful game will look unrecognisable.

Yet go back 10 years, and the football played today will still look like it’s in another universe. Not concerning the format of the game, but the levels of money involved.

There’s an underlying truth that plagues domestic football across the elite European clubs. Most commentators who have watched, observed and studied the nature of European football have witnessed it lurch year on year towards ever increasing globalisation.

In the Premier League, a continuing expansion of its coverage reaches fans across the world as they get to view the blockbuster action of Manchester, Merseyside and the North London derbies.

There is a major problem though: money. The recent TV deal agreed in 2015 stood at £5.136bn, a figure nearly five times higher than the package agreed with the Premier League in 2009.

Football may be circled with money, but the man at the centre of the transfer which optimises its influence is still aware of his roots.

No surprise then that last year at £93.5m, Sunderland – who finished bottom of the league – received more prize money than Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich, Ligue 1 champions Monaco and Serie A victors Juventus.

Nonetheless, in European football, there is a mass inequality between the income of a select number of clubs at the top (probably less than five) and in PSG’s case, this is owing to the fact they are state-owned by Qatar.

The country has underlined their vast oil and gas wealth by saving what was a financially stricken club and turning it into an economic powerhouse. Incredibly, a majority of PSG’s income originates from the Qatar Tourism Authority’s €200m a year sponsorship deal.

So, it is not surprising that PSG spent more on Neymar than the biggest Euromillions jackpot. What is eyebrow raising is how that deal, added to the Mbappe transfer, could pass UEFA’s financial fair play regulations.

FFP was introduced by UEFA seven years ago to stop clubs involved in European competitions from spending more than they earn. The fundamental principle is that, beyond a small loss currently set at €5m over three years, clubs’ outgoings must match their incomings.

Since then, UEFA has become more lenient, and they’ve allowed owners to spend an additional €30m of their own money over a rolling three-year period, a move which has aided PSG.

There is an inner belief within PSG that they can recoup any losses through increased revenue into the club.

Neymar can draw more star players to the club and is exceptionally marketable. He is also likely to increase the chances of PSG furthering their ambition to win the one prize that has eluded them: The Champions League.

So, what of Neymar? It’s easy to criticise a player who left the club which gave him a platform in Europe for one shrouded by money, but the Brazilian has also moved to Handicap International, becoming an ambassador for an organisation helping refugees in Cambodia and Thailand.

The Brazilian started his footballing career as a kid playing street games in a quiet district in Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paolo. His family home was located half a mile from a garbage dump, with barefooted children playing with a partially deflated ball through the streets.

Football may be circled with money, but the man at the centre of the transfer which optimises its influence is still aware of his roots.

If more players can do the same, then football may recover from its time on the sick bed.

Opinion pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Forge Press.

Words by Tim Adams
Image credit: Alex Fau


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