By Darshan Joshi
Football is ofttimes accused of self-serving megalomania. These accusations aren’t necessarily baseless – while FIFA and it’s regional tributaries do give back, they do so somewhat disproportionately to their behemoth fiscal inflows (see here). It can be argued though, that once in a while, football contributes to economic improvement in a side effect capacity. World Cups and European Championships tend to, like the Olympics, engage workforces in bruising multi-year structural endeavours; upheavals of transportation systems and the erections of stadiums spring to mind, followed by bouts of anticipatory and in-tournament tourism.
Hotels pay taxes, as do the sole proprietors and brewers whose quarterly earnings are handsomely bloated by FIFA and/or UEFA action. Of course, these are merely the side effects of football’s competitive brainchildren. If domestic fiscal policy is aided by the right to host these events, football’s pockets are aided and then given a soothing massage by the gold-plated hands of a platitude of hulking multinationals.
On a microcosmic footballing level, we have clubs and players, also ofttimes accused of self-serving megalomania (at least there is a consistency in this sport). Many of these are privately owned, usually by a variety of tycoon (oil tycoons, sport tycoons, cyberspace tycoons, Wall Street tycoons, even chicken-farm tycoons – let’s call them the 1%). Once more, the reasons behind the neoteric ‘let’s-buy-a-football-club’ revolution are of the rapacious sort. There is money in football, and lots of it.
There is no money in Europe, though. Economies are shadowed by the doom of grotesque debt-to-GDP ratios, high unemployment, rising taxes and rousing interest rates. The future is murky.