$500,000 a week? For kicking a football?

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$500,000 a week? For kicking a football? By Alan Hughes


Wayne Rooney now earns $500,000 a week. (Nasmac under a Creative Commons Licence)

I love football. I’ve played football most of my life and I’ve supported my team, Aston Villa, most of my life. Pele is famous for saying football is ‘the beautiful game’. And that is true when it is played at its best – for example, Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

But something has changed with the beautiful game and now it is ugly. The change is money. Money is nearly killing football.

And the latest very bad news is that Wayne Rooney has a contract at Manchester United for US$500,000 (£300,000). Yes, you read that right... $500,000 A WEEK!

When the English Premier League started in 1992, no-one knew how much it would change English football. Football is a business and the Premier League has made around $5.8 billion from television contrcats. Much of the money is from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports. And then there are the clubs that are owned by multi-billionaires (Roman Abramovich at Chelsea; Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City...) and the millions they have ‘invested’ in these clubs. It is very difficult to understand it all.

And footballers’ salaries are now out of control. Gail Sheridan is the wife of Scottish socialist politician Tommy Sheridan. She thinks Rooney’s contract is a terrible thing. She thinks that no footballer should earn so much money. Sheridan says that doctors, nurses, firefighters, and other emergency service personnel should all earn high wages and have good pensions, But should footballers, bankers and politicians earn so much? She thinks they don’t give enough to society.

Micky Quinn played football for Newcastle. He thinks Rooney’s new contract shows the very big difference between millionaire footballers and working-class fans. Quinn wrote in a newspaper, How can a man who works from nine o’clock to five o’clock every day or someone without a job be a fan of a footballer with a £75-million [$125 million] contract?

For me it’s the same old story, again and again. Inequality. The rich get richer and the poor are not important. Rooney and his stupid friends can ‘earn’ millions for kicking a ball around. But nurses have to take action because the government will not pay a promised salary increase. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the country does not have enough money for that.

Capitalism is a crazy way to do things. It’s unfair, it’s cruel, and it is not sustainable. But people think it works and that there is no other way. Offer people money and they’ll believe anything. Good luck to Rooney, they say, why isn’t it me?

The other day, I heard someone say that no-one is forced to watch Rooney and his friends. I agree. And so I am not going to watch him.

I have decided to stop going to Premier League football matches. I can still go to the park where they play REAL football. My favourite team Aston Villa will have to play without me. I don’t want to put my money into the pockets of these thieves. I will never subscribe to Sky Sports. I don’t want to watch their stupid advertisements. I hope that others will join me. Because Big Business fears losing profits. People power is all we have – perhaps it’s all we ever had?

I want the old days back when football was a working-class game. When a football club was a part of the community. When players were proud to play for their club and there was loyalty.

A friend said that we need to start again. He meant improving the welfare state, the National Health Service, the railways... everything that has been sold to business. It’s a very sad thought but, sadly, he’s right.

I’ll leave the last word to Bill Shankly. He was one of the greatest football managers:

‘The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share…. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life.’

Old Bill would be angry now.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: http://newint.org/blog/2014/03/20/football-salaries/