In his editorial column in the latest edition of the official UEFA publication UEFA•direct, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino writes that football must assume its responsibilities in the face of the current economic crisis.
What do football supporters and financiers have in common? The euro is liable to give them both sleepless nights – from excitement in the case of the football EURO, but from anxiety where the currency is concerned. So should we sit back and count ourselves lucky?
Absolutely not. While it is true that football is a source of refuge in times of crisis, the difficulties that European economies are facing will inevitably catch up with us in the end. It would therefore be wrong to bask in a false sense of security.
After all, we must not forget that the public form the bedrock of our sport. That is why broadcasters buy our rights and companies allocate us a large chunk of their marketing budgets, because their investment ultimately pays off through its impact on the public, who end up buying their products.
We can already see the negative effects of the crisis moving up the economic chain and affecting the world of football. Although these effects are not (yet) spectacular, they are nevertheless discernible. Players are going on strike, player unemployment is rising, some clubs are finding it hard to pay the wage bill, and so on. For now these signs may not be ubiquitous, but there is no denying they exist.
UEFA is, of course, taking measures, but it must not be the only one to do so. The whole football family is affected. Everyone must assume their responsibilities and take action within their sphere of influence. Because an organism whose survival instincts – instead of being innate – must be instilled through rules and regulations will struggle on the evolutionary scale. Let us therefore make sure we all do whatever is needed to ensure that even the financiers can escape their anxieties on matchnight.
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