With the intense coverage and controversy surrounding major world stars like Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, many ask questions regarding the unnecessary power these players seem to wield.
Are superstar players becoming too powerful? Why should they want to leave a club and their fans when they are still under contract? Why do they need to move? Don’t they earn enough money already? Don’t they think of the fans who love them?
The questions, to a large extent, are justified and I, therefore, would like to share with you what these stars wish you understood or took into consideration.
1.We have a short “lifespan”
On average, a soccer star has a lifespan (as a top pro) of 10 years. Judging from experience, players are “competitively valuable” till age 32 and, God willing, might live up to 70 years before nature calls. Yhey have 10 years to earn a source of living for the next 40 years or more.
A soccer player therefore needs to earn as much as they can. Though the sums might seem astronomical to some, the modern superstar, in general, has extended family to care for while active and after retirement. This is especially true for African and South American superstars.
2.Clubs are responsible for the high transfer sums (not players)
Players have little influence on the transfer prices short of the fact that they could be exceptionally talented. The laws of demand and supply, supervised by the club administrators, are responsible for the astronomical transfer prices.
Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez or Cesc Fabregas are not the ones quoting transfer prices but the club administrators. Don’t blame us for the price tags.
3.We seek happiness too and are professionals like any other
Players, like most people, need to be happy in the workplace, otherwise we cannot perform at our best. Wayne Rooney is seeking an exit because he is not guaranteed frontline status by the new boss. Suarez seeks Champions League football and so does Gareth Bale. These arguments, sentiments aside, are credible in my view.
When a doctor employed by a major hospital in one country decides to change environment or workplace, though under contract, he is not held back against his and his family’s wishes in public. He is not made to look like a traitor to his sick patients, whom he might love enormously but he is thinking of the well being of his family first. Why shouldn’t soccer stars be treated in the same fashion?
Brad Pitt earns $20 million for a movie (for example) and works for four months to make this movie (which might end up being a flop) and not an eyebrow is raised. Why then raise an eyebrow at the $10 million earnings of a soccer star who has to earn it in a year and by contractual stipulations has to be available at the club’s beck and call?
4.We pay enormous taxes
At the moment most stars pay as much as 50 per cent tax on their reported earnings. So each time you read the seemingly huge earning sums of the stars, divide it in half. Lionel Messi was just forced to pay, I believe, €13million in “forgotten” taxes to the Spanish government.
5.No pension rights
Soccer players are not entitled to pensions after retirement (in most countries) because they fall into “the artist” group of public life. At retirement, players get no government or public assistance to live or pay health bills.
The modern-day soccer player has to prepare his or her own pension plan for life after soccer.
6.Not everything you read about us is true
I guess this point needs little explanation.
7.We do not feel overpaid
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are reported to earn over €10 million annually but the income that their jersey sales, image rights and fans’ commercial purchases bring in to their respective clubs annually is worth over five times their income. This easily offsets their transfer costs and wages.
The players know this now, unlike prior to 1996, and therefore demand better compensation.
In summary, it is understandable that in these trying times of economic crisis it could be smart to avoid public statements or litigation about exit plans and money.
In all fairness none of the above named superstars cited the need to leave to earn more but want to leave for reasons other than money and to an extent that should be noted and applauded.
It must also be stated that, for every superstar that earns a lot, you have hundreds of thousands of soccer players who did not make it. Players are the lifeline of the clubs (the fans too naturally) and do deserve to be better understood.
No Fans, no football or football stars. No football stars, no football. Believe me the soccer stars know this and love their fans, contrary to what some want you to think.