Infantino asks about salary caps
Through J Hutcherson (May 11, 2021) American Football Players – If you’re looking for the European equivalent of talking about promotion and relegation as the answer to American football’s problems, it could be salary caps. Except in Europe, the people most likely to speak out are already in positions of power. For example, FIFA President Gianni Infantino. In an interview with AS broadcast in other media, he returned to this favorite subject.
“I have said many times that we should think about the possibility of introducing some sort of cap on salaries, transfer fees, team size limits and other rules that can help control a spiral. of spending which is detrimental to the game even if we live. in an increasingly globalized world, ”he said. “Of course, the controversy over the Super League has taken over the debate but it should really be an opportunity to focus on the key issues of football and its future. Concentration of power and money less and less. The competitive imbalance is worsening more and more at the national level and even more at the international level. Salaries, transfer fees and agent fees are skyrocketing to unsanitary levels. “
None of this should come as a surprise. It’s not just Infantino “who says it over and over”. These are the people with administrative and economic influence in the game who ask why they can’t follow the North American model and agree to rules that limit spending alongside economic risk. All of the major North American leagues have either a salary cap or a luxury tax to control spending. It’s a parity mechanism in closed leagues as well as a way to prevent teams from getting lost in trouble. For them, a fragile economy will always be a problem rather than a commitment to win at ridiculous costs. The last North American professional sports team to go bankrupt was the NHL Buffalo Sabers in 2003. It’s a rarity in North American sports for a reason.
While it may be tempting to consider the same sport when talking about the same sport, the idea that European football authorities are fondly leaning over the MLS version of cost control should be clarified. The single entity is not the model of the largest professional sports leagues in North America. They have owners, not investor-operators. What they chose to share in terms of broadcast rights and sponsorship happened after the league was formed, not as part of the original business model.
European football adopting cost controls would probably be closer to this than Major League Soccer. Without a string of breakaways, it’s hard to see European football reforming around shared club ownership. It’s more of a wall than an obstacle. Instead, what Infantino describes would turn European club football into something like a North American league with one fundamental difference. It is the transfer system for buying and selling player contracts rather than trading players.
Infantino mentioning the transfer fee is more about scale than concept. Still, it’s worth asking why people are so laid back with a system that boils down to selling players for money. Apply that to any other industry or business, and it’s clearly a problem. In European football, this is standard business practice. Other places that should know better how to hang on to it do not justify the transfer system. It’s an archaic way of doing business that speaks to the worst aspects of professional sport. It is also one of the main drivers of the financial problems that even big clubs are currently facing.
As too in European sports, the call to history is misleading. Athletic’s Matt slater put the football transfer system in context earlier this year. This included showing that the ideal of a small club developing elite talent and selling it for a large sum and immediately solving all the problems of the small club is no longer realistic. Player identification has gotten to the point that most potential elite talent is already in the pipeline early in their professional careers. Even then, this version of football’s spinoff economy required FIFA to apply a solidarity fee. This amounts to a collective stubbornness in keeping the transfer system in place.
Stubbornness is an easy catch-all for what causes financial problems in European football. The great attempt at change the Super League represented spoke directly to it. It wasn’t a league, it wasn’t a breakaway, and it only reworked the participation and finances of one of the elite clubs in the competition who expect to play every season. There hasn’t been a fundamental overhaul of what it means to be a football club today. Considering the number of stakeholders in European football, it is unlikely that we will see anything close to this until the system begins to crumble.
Whether or not that happens, this is the risk scenario that European football seems comfortable playing. Even when some of Europe’s biggest clubs report economic demands that could ruin their businesses, they still end up becoming isolated cases. Instead of turning them into an example for needed reform, they are a collection of unique points with very little in common. It’s an open question how many of them would need to be in fundamental trouble at the same time for European football as a whole to decide to act in unison. That’s what it would take for the kind of overhaul of the football economy that the situation in Europe might demand sooner or later.
J Hutcherson began covering football in 1999 and has worked as the General Manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. Contact him at [email protected].
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