Everyone rejoice!! The transfer of the century is upon us – Hallelujah. One of the world’s most talented and marketable players is going to be plying his trade at Qatari backed PSG. If reports are to believed, Neymar is going to be earning a ‘jaw dropping’ £500,000 a week. Even by today’s ridiculous standards, this is an obscene amount to be paying for the service of an athlete – albeit a supremely gifted one. But this transfer represents everything wrong with football; It is greediness at its peak, where multiple parties will have their pockets lavished by Qatari wealth.
Firstly, this deal completely destroys any notion of Financial Fair Play. Around 4 years ago the concept of FFP was introduced by UEFA as a way to make clubs spend within their means. The idea was that teams dependent on oligarchs, such as Man City, Chelsea and (of course) PSG, would now spend in accordance with their turnover and revenue. So the idea that a club, whose revenue streams are dwarfed by Barcelona, Real Madrid and others, can now pay a buyout clause of £196 million highlights how incredibly dubious and fraught UEFA’s FFP has become. That’s without taking into account the wages. And once you do that you’re talking about a total cost of almost 300 million euros – YIKES.
But wait, because this gets so much worse. Potentially the ‘fattest cat’ to come from all of this is Neymar’s father – who will undoubtedly be doing cartwheels once this transfer has concluded. Why you may ask? Well, Mr Neymar Snr will be receiving payments of around 36 million euros in agents fees and another 26 million euros as a “loyalty bonus” from Neymar’s current club Barcelona (who are desperate not to pay this) you really couldn’t make this up. To put this into context, Neymar’s dad will earn 62 million euros before his son has even kicked a ball for PSG.
And let’s go into QSI the owners of PSG – who are funding this exorbitant purchase. Firstly, without equating the actions of the fund to the gulf-state government there is enough controversy to be understandably wary. In preparation for their world cup in 2022, stadium workers are suffering appalling conditions and countless violations of their human rights. That’s without mentioning the multiple accusations of funding terrorist groups across the middle east – which is another kettle of fish entirely. QSI, whilst not being directly involved in these larger issues, are still an arm of the Qatari government. And they themselves have faced recent accusations of corruption – particularly in relation to the upcoming IAAF 2017 World Championship. Basically, can you really trust that everything going on in this deal is all strictly legal and above board? I for one am very skeptical.
From a strictly sporting sense its hard to fathom why anyone would want to leave Barcelona to join a vastly inferior league. With current champions Monaco having their team pillaged, PSG could have this year’s title wrapped up by late March. Neymar is going to be toying with the defenders in this league and will get the kind of space that will make Moses parting of the red sea look small in comparison. Where’s the competition going to be coming from? Because it won’t be in Ligue 1. Perhaps this will come in the Champions League, something PSG is desperate to win. But even with Neymar in their side, it is unlikely that PSG will claim a maiden champions league crown next season. I would have thought Manchester United would have been a perfect fit. A club as big as Barcelona in need of someone to be their ‘king’ – this would have been ideal. But, that may have to wait a couple of years when another fictitious “loyalty fee” will undoubtedly go into Neymar Snr’s pockets.
Football has become a globalised commodity and players are the key material in making this machine work. The case of Neymar is particularly pertinent. A Brazilian superstar looking to join a French club backed by a murky funding arm of the Qatari government offering incredible wages. This is all part and parcel of a sport that has never been more disconnected from reality than it is now. But just like all things one day this will all crash down with a great big thud.