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FIFA leaks - Football still the people’s game?

Monday 5 November 2018

SIMON Chadwick, Professor of Sports Analytics at the University of Salford Business School, comments on the FIFA football leaks and how they highlight the changing global game.

Professor Chadwick said: “Following hot on the heels of the latest FIFA computer hack, Football Leaks make for great reading, and provide hard evidence to support what many of us think we already know. 

“That is, the formation of a super league appears to be a permanent item on the strategic agendas of big clubs, and that some clubs (notably Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City) appear to have been leniently dealt with following their respective breaches of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. 

“However, these are hardly stunning revelations. The significance of the latest news is not in the headlines, but instead in the fundamental issues raised by the leaks. 

“At the heart of matters is the issue of power: of big clubs which are contemplating breaking away both from existing competitions and established governance structures; and of the same clubs to influence the rules and sanctions of football. This inevitably poses the following questions: on what basis do these clubs have power? How do they wield it? And what are the consequences of this? Power comes from the control of resources, which means that entities that own these resources can dictate the terms of resource exchanges. 

“Consequently, exchanges are governed not by a set of rules defined by a league or a governing body. Rather, it is the power of governments and countries at one extreme, and capitalists and markets at the other extreme, that now regulate what happens in football. This may be a harsh reality to countenance for people with an interest in football. However, the importance of heritage, tradition and convention in football have rapidly declined as influences. The leaks are therefore a confirmation that football may still be a people’s game, though these are not the same people many of us used to refer to.

“What happens in football is dictated either by market forces or Government offices in cities like Beijing, Doha and Riyadh.”

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Sam Wood

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