He may be very
late in coming to the party – but at least FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, who
likes to see himself as the inscrutable Swiss guardian of the world game, has
commendably hit out against soccer’s financial excesses that he says are
“reminiscent of a misguided wild-west style of capitalism.”

In a
calculated attack reported in today’s Financial Times, Blatter put
the boot into profligate club owners and massively overpaid players, claiming
the obscene amounts of money available at the top tiers of football risked
wrecking the sport.

And in case Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich thought Blatter wasn’t
attacking him; Blatter clearly has him at the top of his hit list:
“What makes this a matter for concern is that, all too often, the
source of this wealth is individuals with little or no history of
interest in the game, who, have happened upon football as a means of
serving some hidden agenda. Having set foot in the sport seemingly out
of nowhere, they proceed to throw pornographic amounts of money at it,”
Blatter charged.

He also laid into
irresponsible spending and the excessive wages going to “semi-educated, sometimes foul-mouthed” players guided by
“unsavoury” agents. “It is
insane for any player to earn £6m-£8 a year when the annual budget of a club
competing in the Champions’ League may be less than half that,” Blatter
reasoned.

I have been dumbstruck at just how accepting of the new inflation
in European football – which is being felt all the way down the food
chain to the cost of a general admission ticket – the game’s
authorities have been up to now. Blatter promises the formation of a
FIFA taskforce to deal with “the kinds of excesses I have outlined,” as
he also warned: “I am confident that this initiative will bear fruit
quickly and decisively.”

Peter Fray

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