Soccer and Hardcore Capitalism

“Soccer is a socialist sport!” I honestly heard that dozens of times throughout the World Cup, mostly from the more heavy duty right wing pundits and politicians. It’s one of the most comically false statements I’ve heard over the past couple of years… right up with calling Obama a Nazi communist (which is stupid because fascism was, specifically, a response to communism and was in fact radically anti-commie).

While I know most Americans don’t follow soccer in any way, one need only read a couple of stories about the international soccer transfer market to realize that it’s unabashedly, and in fact painfully, capitalist. If a club wants to try to sign a player from another club, the two clubs must first agree on a price. IE, if TeamOne FC wants to buy Winger O’Expensiveguy from TeamTwo United, the two teams have to negotiate a price. It’s not uncommon for such prices to reach the 50mil mark for a solid player. Once that has been agreed to, then TeamOne can talk to Winger and offer a new contract. If Winger agrees, then the giant fees get paid out. This is compared to the NFL, whereby trades happen with contract intact, and with a salary cap preventing the trades from getting so damned expensive.

The big teams have to spend obscene amounts of money to keep signing the best talent and keep winning games. Over the past few years it has in fact become a rather major scandal. One of the best known teams, Manchester united, is in nearly 2 BBBBBBBILLLION dollars of debt from its expensive habits. Another team in the same league, Portsmouth, is in such bad debt that it’s been prevented in participating in some Euro tournaments this upcoming year. And this is brutal on the lower league clubs: although they have the chance to rise to the major leagues through the awesome trend of promotion and relegation, most can’t hack it for more than one year and have to drop back, because they can’t spend that kind of money on players.

And the really, very funny part is that the NFL, upheld as a bastion of the working Joe’s sport and certainly held in the highest regard amongst the folks calling soccer socialist, is in fact a heavily socialized organization. Teams in the NFL can’t go into the kind of debt that soccer teams do for two reasons: one, salary caps. They’re only allowed to spend X amount to make sure every team has the same chance as the others. And two, profit sharing. The highest grossing teams have their wealth redistributed. Which is kind of what communism means. And then of course on top of that, the players are all unionised, unlike soccer’s players. Not that the anti-soccer crowds would ever admit, or even recognize, that fact.

Not that what I’m typing here has any effect on reality, mind you. People seem to go out of their way to remain uneducated about anything outside of their personal worldview. And so, the folks who have a forum to spout bullshit can continue getting away with it, growing their support from the proletariat thanks to the ongoing automatic reaction of OMG COMMIES!

But whatever. Go Arsenal!