Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spared From Recession for Now, Soccer Lets Money and Hope Flow

Soccer seemed to defy financial gravity in 2009. While much of the world buckled into recession, FIFA, the sport’s governing body, declared that each of the 32 nations that qualified for the 2010 World Cup would receive financial rewards 60 percent higher than ever before.


Working on similar lines, Real Madrid paid Manchester United about $132 million for Cristiano Ronaldo. That was only the transfer sum; the salary is $15 million a year extra. But Madrid reckons that it is a viable deal, and, like every other club in the Champions League, can start reducing its debts through prize money that is guaranteed to be 33 percent more over this and the next three seasons.


This is because soccer’s big television and sponsorship deals are locked into the period of prosperity that existed before the global financial crash. The recession may hit the sport down the road. But soccer lives for the now, and if there are bankruptcies in the system, none of them have been declared during 2009.


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