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Sepp Blatter, "Slavery" and the Press: It's all About Cristiano Ronaldo

Andrew MullinsContributor IJuly 10, 2008

The longest transfer saga in the history of football opened up another fresh chapter today in the wake of comments made by FIFA boss Sepp Blatter:

 

"Definitely as a footballer and the FIFA president, I'm very in sympathy with the player Ronaldo. I think in football there is too much modern slavery, transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere. And we are trying now to intervene in such cases."

 

In February 1972, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough made Trevor Francis the first million player in English football, signing him from Birmingham City. The thing not many people know about the transfer is that, in an attempt to sooth Francis’ ego, Clough’s offer was £999,999, with taxes (typically) taking the fee to £1.1m.

In 2001, Gianluigi Buffon, a goalkeeper, left Parma to join Italian giants Juventus for a staggering £32m! This, in many people’s eyes, was the moment we realised that football clubs had the ability to grow their own money trees, making Francis’ transfer seem more like an occasion when a Grandmother gives her Grandchild £1 to spend on penny sweets.

Of course, on learning of these mythical money trees, the players decided they fancied a branch for themselves. David Beckham, of MLS side LA Galaxy, is reportedly earning just under £500,000 a week! On my present wage, it would take me nearly 30 years to earn that much money.

I do not personally know anyone who can justify such a wage, which makes Mr Blatter’s comments among the most offensive and outrageous words I have ever heard in my life.

Upon hearing these comments, I feel it is necessary to mail a book on the subject of slavery to the FIFA President. It is of course an extremely sensitive subject and to be used in a context such as it was today is unacceptable behaviour from a man seemingly hell-bent on ruining the modern day game, accompanied by his UEFA colleague Michel Platini.

The subject is so sensitive in fact, that I have had to carefully re-read and re-write this article to ensure I, myself, do not offend.

Mr Blatter, in relation to your statement, Cristiano Ronaldo gets paid £120k a week to play football for a living. I’m fairly sure he lives in a mansion near Manchester, has many properties oversees, pays for a housekeeper (maybe even two!) and drives flash car after flash car. If this is what you call “modern slavery” then please, sign me up!

The general public have often blamed footballers and their respective clubs for the outrageous wages they earn for simply kicking a rounded dead cow across the greenest of grasses. Personally, I believe it is the people such as Sepp Blatter who have allowed the excessive amounts of money to be shipped around in the game.

Comments, such as todays are exactly why the modern-day footballer acts like he does. United have once again responded defiantly to the latest development in the saga surrounding their most prized asset. Leading me on to my next assessment:

A United spokesman said: "All our players enter into their contracts after an open and free negotiation. Most of whom do after taking advice from a FIFA-registered agent. Many do so on a number of occasions and enjoy long and successful stays at Old Trafford."

The saga itself has not been helped by the press intrusion and so-called reports of Ronaldo saying he wants to leave the club. Not once have I, or anyone, seen the Portuguese utter the words: “I want to play for Real Madrid.”

Every report linked the story seemingly states lines such as “a source close to…” and “the player has reportedly said…” Everyone appears to have forgotten the only visual evidence of Ronaldo’s stance on the matter is after United won the European Cup, when Gabriel Clarke of ITV asked whether he was staying. Ronaldo’s reply: “yes, of course.”

How many times has he reportedly announced to make a “decision in a few days” with absolutely nothing happening within that period.

 

To conclude, Cristiano Ronaldo is one year in to a five year contract with Manchester United. That contract clearly states that Ronaldo is employed by United and that he may only leave the club if they feel it is necessary to accept a bid from another club or the player himself hands in a transfer request accepted by United.

Of course, if Ronaldo was to hand in a transfer request, he is more than aware that he will lose many bonuses surrounding loyalty, image rights and so forth.

If Ronaldo does in fact stay with Manchester United for the remaining four years of his contract, he will earn nearly £32m from the club alone in that period. Mr Blatter, to be earning this amount of money is clearly not an example of modern-day slavery and your comments today are quite simply, an insult.

Especially to those unfortunate enough to have been part of or are still part of such a crime against our rights as human beings. This man should not be in the position he currently holds and should count himself extremely lucky he is still in a job.