LET’S HOPE THE CHINESE KNOW WHAT THERE ARE DOING
The question of passion or love versus material wealth in football has over the years been asked and answered in various ways.
There was a time the former had a very big say over the latter – think for example Diego Maradona’s decision to stick with Napoli – and viewers have ever since been treated to a plethora of tales of loyalty, passion and sacred bonds players did have for their teams.
The matador-like push of club football to premium status in the early 90’s was a major factor that kick-started the dynamics of football as we know it today. Being honest demands admission that gone are those days where emotional attachments held sway – although players like Gerard and Totti tried their best to prove otherwise and for the record it did come at a price – inability for such legendary names to have a league title attached to them.
Another school of thought will tell you that the relegation of loyalty to the background did not necessarily have to do with players’ “long throats,” pinning a chunk of the blame-cake on club themselves. Like the two-way street loyalty is, a peruse at records will lead searchlights to beam on instances where clubs terminated or refused to renew contracts with even “one time” fan-favourites mainly because the “returns in value” of the player in question dipped below standard “requirements” and an extension of the said contract only “hurts” the club in the long run. This is the reason emotionally-stirred muses of supposed loyalty don’t hold water because at the end of the day football – especially at the club level – remains business, a set-up where profit is the ultimate goal.
This makes the media “pointing-of-hands” over who wronged who in contract negotiations look like airy reactions to the changes that occur in a system that runs on logic, mathematics and profit-focused book-keeping. The batting of eyelids at how easily European based players are switching to the new rich kid in the block ready to shell out wads for the street folks – The Chinese Super League – should not in all sincerity warrant such shocks & outrages.
Brazilian international Hulk was among the first set of “active” players – unlike the likes of Drogba and Anelka that spent the best part of their productive years with European elites – to take the bold step – or should we say selfish? – in moving to China.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ramires, J. Martinez all followed suit leaving behind promising club careers for higher fortunes in the less known league of the oriental world. Graziano Pelle abandoned a promising start with Southampton last summer and now earns 273 thousand pounds per-week. The underlining tone to these stories is that the Chinese offers are too good to be turned down. In fact, since the Chinese revolution, 5 of the 14 highest paid footballers now ply their trade there. Chelsea’s Oscar who at one time was unimaginable to see the Blues flourish without him just sealed a 60million pound move to Shanghai SIPG and former Manchester City striker Tevez is being rumoured to be on the verge of landing a mouthwatering deal that is best imagined.
As insane as the figures sound, the rhetoric cannot be overlooked. Club football is an enterprise. Club owners want to gain as much as possible from it while players want the same (high salaries) and right now as at 2016 with the help of cash cows like Chinese football clubs the players are beginning to have their silent wishes easily fulfilled.
Last word of caution being that unlike the activities of Qatar, Russia and other “one time” swift spenders – who’ve been cut back to size as a result of the fall in global oil price – Chinese Super League better find ways to sustain this very ambition they just started.