I wish I had better legs

by Laura Vilaça

I wish I had better legs. In today’s job market, having good, skillful legs seems like the key to achieve financial success and social status. Yes, I’m talking about playing football and the amazing figures the players mount up just for the simple fact that they can dribble a football and have good game strategy. At 25, Messi is worth 120.000.000€ in the football market, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo (28), worthing 100.000.000€, and Andrés Iniesta (29), 70.000.000€. In a Dragon Ball world, if these boys were to fuse, they would create a super-star football player with a weird body height and, most importantly, a 300 million euro tag attached as accessory.

You can't touch this.

You can’t touch this.

Being pretty also counts. First, it makes for good merchandise sales, with more hysterical girls buying posters and jerseys, visiting football stadiums and Madame Tussaud museums. Second, it counts for good publicity contracts. Showing your photoshopped johnson in a nice pair of tighty-whities and flashing your perfectly shaped abs topped with a baby face makes for VERY good money. Thirdly, it makes it more likely for a player to be called to sponsor charities, to patronize big events or to lead foundations. David Beckham is the master of taking God given good looks to make money, scoring a reported 31 million euro in endorsements alone. He was one of the faces of the London 2012 Olympics (with honors of carrying the torch), a founding member of “Malaria No More” UK Leadership Council, a supporter of the charity “Help for Heroes” and the founder of his own charity, “Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust”, besides being a UNICEF Ambassador. Freshly retired from football, David Backham has plenty to do besides kicking a ball around.

The same with other players, mostly envolved in scandals (this one is for you, Giggs), bitching (lovely John Terry) and anything but, apparently, playing football. The sports, once an immaculate genre of brotherhood and sportsmanship  is now turned into a generalized group of celebrities kicking a ball, hoping for a longer moment in the spotlight that will bring them extra cash.

Read it and weep, mate

Read it and weep, mate

I happen to like football, and thus this distortion of the game  does not settle well with me. Making a business out of it is as legitime as anything else; however, when the business gets in front of the sport itself, that’s when things start to go awry. It’s not conceivable to me how the fuck someone can make so much money for kicking a ball. I don’t understand it. It is immoral, in the context we’re facing now. The Economist published this week a report on how long workers in Europe have to work, in average, to achieve what a CEO from their country makes in an hour. The numbers are very explicit, showing a huge pit between the average worker and the boss. I wonder: how long would an average worker have to toil in order to make what a football player makes in a hour? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was one year.

People need distractions and entertainment to numb the shit lives most of them are living. Traditionally, football was the sports of the people, the entertainment of the working man. If so, what happened? Why are the football tickets so goddamn expensive? The cheapest ticket to a Manchester United game in Old Trafford is 28£. 28£ is over 30€. How can you expect a working, lower middle class Joe, to be able to afford that? These are the people who made  football big; they were the first supporters, the ones who built the legend of the football atmosphere that is so praised. It is a huge lack of respect to now keep them out of the game or make them go to stupid efforts just for money’s sake. Football clubs make more than enough capital with the broadcasting fees of the game, licences to sell food and other goods at the stadium, merchandise, transfers, etc. Isn’t it time for football to go back to its initial purity and be given back to the people? Isn’t it time players stop behaving like spoiled children in a kindergarden and start looking at football as a job? Let’s hope Mr. Platini reads my post. In the meantime, remind yourselves of the beauty of football with this amazing moment:

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