The world of football was rocked last week by Wayne Rooney’s announced desire to leave Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson, Rooney, Rooney’s agent, and former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo have all chimed in on the decision. Now, it’s Gemini’s turn to give our take on the news and what it means for global soccer.
Rooney has explained his main reason for wanting to leave as a lack of “assurances about the future squad” by the chief executive of Manchester United, David Gill. And though Rooney has pointed to a limited supply of world-class footballers on the team as a contributing factor to his decision, the move is really about money.
Rooney carried the club last season after the departure of Ronaldo and was expected to become the cornerstone around which a new and powerful Manchester United team would be built. The financial woes of the club, however, have prevented Ferguson from acquiring as many star players as expected. Surprisingly, though, the fans, the owners and the footballers themselves have been calm about the lack of star power, and despite a less than successful start to the season, United remains one of the most powerful teams in the world.
These reasons still do not justify Rooney’s actions nor the way he expressed his desire to leave; Ronaldo, who was not as loved by the Manchester United fans as Rooney and who had always indicated his desire to leave the club, played spectacularly and acted professionally for a season before he finally left for Real Madrid.
So, why does Rooney want to leave the club of which he is the hero? What has changed over the last couple of years that led Rooney to make this decision? Is it really Manchester City’s interest and offer for Rooney that caused this decision?
After being bought by Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, Manchester City has gone on a spending spree, putting more than 250 million euros into two transfer seasons, bringing high-caliber players like Robinho, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and David Silva to the city of Manchester. By also paying ridiculously higher wages to the players than the market average, Manchester City has been able to attract top-quality players. They pay around 500 million pounds on player wages, and thanks to this excess, even players like James Milner, Yaya Toure and Joleon Lescott – who would be considered mediocre at a top-level European stage – are topping the highest-earning players list.
As one of the best forwards and top goalscorers in the world, Wayne Rooney has every right to ask for a move from Manchester United, where he is paid almost the same amount as a Manchester City bench player. He knows for a fact that he can get paid much more if he makes a move to Manchester City or Real Madrid, and it is a known fact that both of these clubs have been showing interest in him. Manchester United, although also owned by foreign investors, does not have the financial strength Manchester City possesses and cannot offer Rooney – already the highest-paid player on United – any more money than they already have.
So, what does this all mean for the soccer world?
Foreign investment has been a huge factor in the transfer market in recent years, resulting in increased transfer fees and wages, making it harder for clubs to keep their players and for players to stay loyal to their clubs. In today’s highly commercial and industrialized soccer world, loyalty is rarely seen. That is why Manchester United fans are full of hatred toward Wayne Rooney, as were Barcelona fans toward Luis Figo when he moved to Real Madrid in 2000 and Inter Milan fans when Zlatan Ibrahimovic moved to AC Milan this summer.
So, what can be done about this? How can we stop the waste of millions of euros? What is the limit to the ever-increasing number of zeros in player contracts? We have a simple solution: institute a salary cap. If UEFA enforces a salary cap, deciding on a maximum amount of money a European club can pay to their players, it can help to solve this problem.
Without a doubt, the fans want success. They want wins and trophies, and most of the time money can bring that. But what fans want most is loyalty. Young Manchester United fans want Wayne Rooney to be their idol, they want him to retire in a Red Devils jersey like Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes. No matter how amazing Wayne Rooney is or how he led United to success, he will never be loved and respected by Manchester United fans as much as Giggs or Scholes, who have dedicated their entire lives to Manchester United.
UEFA has a responsibility to make sure young fans have idols to look up to, and the ability to do that lies in the organization’s control of club finances.
The Gemini have spoken.
Michael Appau is a sophomore in the College. Cem Youlban is a sophomore in the SFS. GEMINI SPORTS appears every third issue of HOYA SPORTS.