Football has always been known as a sport where anything can happen. No one, no matter how skilled or talented, is assured victory. It is a sport that actually gives the underdog a chance. In fact, ever since it was invented, football was known as the sport for the 'working class' people, ranging from poor to middle class.
However, with the worldwide popularity of football, the billions of people watching it everyday, it was inevitable that the financial, social structure and meaning of the game would undergo a change. The greed of businessmen and organisations to capitalise off of the game have changed it. This change has been arriving gradually, but inevitably. It is apparent in the privatization of clubs, their sales to multi-millionaires, and the astronomical salary and transfer fees of the players.
In recent history, perhaps the two most notorious clubs that have been purchased by the richest of the rich are Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain (PSG).
Manchester City, owned by the Arab Sheikh Mansour and PSG, owned by Nasser-al-Khelaifi have been known to splurge obscene amounts of money to sign the biggest, best and shiniest players to add to their squad, almost like a trophy collection. They have been known or are at least rumoured to have violated the FFP (Financial Fairplay) guidelines more than once, because they are owned by people who are too rich and too powerful to be investigated.
Ironically, almost in poetic fashion, both have still failed to win a UEFA Champions League trophy. They aren't the only clubs to have filthy rich owners however.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal in the Premier League are all owned by rich businessmen and entrepreneurs. While these owners are ready to spend big bucks in signing players, the problem arises, in my opinion, from the fact that for most of these owners, their football clubs have become businesses that they must profit off, without having any real passion or understanding of football itself. The disastrous and now erstwhile plan of the European Super League is a prime example of greed and trying to take away the miraculous underdog story from the people.
A few days ago, the Premier League announced that Newcastle would be bought out by Saudi Arabian owners whose net worth is close to 137 billion pounds making Newcastle one of the richest clubs in the world. And while Newcastle fans were among those of us who criticize the likes of Man City and PSG for their wealth and unfair advantage were the same fans who were celebrating in the streets; the same Man City fans who were silent about their privilege are now angry about the fact that someone richer than them exists in the league. It's hypocrisy all around.
The fans of the rich clubs will tell you that the money doesn't have a lot to do with their success and trophies, but they would be speaking from a biased perspective. Unfortunately, with the trajectory of football, money has become all important. Fans and football purists moan about how loyalty in football no longer exists and that is largely thanks to these private, rich clubs. There is a saying that "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" and this stands true for football also. The richest clubs can afford to lure the best footballers and then win trophies which in turn attracts more ambitious and skilled football players. It's a vicious cycle designed to result in victory for them every time and defeat for everyone else. They can afford to pay the wages of world class talented players that they have not created or discovered.
Is it any wonder that clubs like Ajax can never come within a shout of winning a major European tournament? Ajax has produced some brilliant sensational players in their youth academy. The UCL season where they beat Real Madrid 4-1 in the Bernabeu was like a death knell for that team because in that very transfer window, all the big clubs with any sort of pedigree rushed to purchase nearly the entire team!
I think it is the tendency of the rich clubs to buy all the best and already established players instead of focusing more on developing their youth academies and inculcating a certain identity into the players that makes everything about them seem so unfair and cunning.
Gone are the times when footballers played in a football kit because they truly loved the clubs, now it's a garish competition to see who can accumulate the most capable players from other smaller teams and then compete for titles, solely based on the amount of money their owners can afford to spend.