Blog Post #3
I am a huge fan of European soccer and I am very disappointed in the future of the sport. Unfortunately, top-tier soccer is no longer about who managed to train the best team but rather who can outbid the competition to acquire key players. While it is not wrong to acquire a player after his contract has expired, some teams are using their copious amount of wealth to buy out their opponent’s players. By using their wealth to take away the other team’s players, they weaken the teams that might challenge them while at the same time making their own team better. Although some may argue that this is an example of supply and demand, I want to explain it more from an Athenian perspective as seen in The Melian Dialogue.
One of the best examples of a bigger, wealthier team buying the key players of a smaller, thriving team is what happened between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Back in 2012, these two teams faced each other countless times as they both were ranked first and second in the Bundesliga (German professional league). These two teams were so successful that they both clashed in the finals of the Champions League, the most prestigious tournament in the world. Although Bayern Munich won the tournament this did not stop them from decimating Dortmund. Bayern Munich would go on to buy Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze, two of the main stars of Borussia. In 2014 Borussia finds itself dead last in their league facing the threat of relegation.
This reminded me a lot of the Athenian’s reason to invade Melos. While the Melians had maintained neutrality during the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians nevertheless besieged the island of Melos. The Athenians at one point say, “ the strong do what they can while the weak suffer what they must.” Back then it was understandable for any nation not to intervene in support of the Melians. The Athenians ruled the sea and their army far outnumbered that of the Melians. Effectively, the far stronger Athenians proved victorious and razed Melos. But why must this continue in sports.
Other sports like basketball and football have established salary caps in order to prevent rich, powerful owner buying out all of the best players. Instead, FIFA established a rule in 2009 that a team cannot spend more than what they earn. This has stagnated development of teams since it limits smaller teams from buying more expensive but better players. Meanwhile, the already established clubs with lots of money can continue their trend of buying out players knowing that very few teams can compete against them on the financial level. The strong will always be strong since they have free reign to pick on the weak.
Things need to change quickly since people will get tired of seeing their clubs once again robbed of their talents by bigger clubs. Soccer will not die out because of this since it is such a global phenomenon but eventually people will stop to watch it because it would have become fruitless. Nobody wants to watch a sport if there are only a handful of competitive teams in the league. So I hope I’m wrong or else things need to change.