HomeSportSoccer now a game of big bucks

Soccer now a game of big bucks

It is a fact that European club football has over the years been dominated by the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona because they could and can afford to buy the best players on display the world over.

with MICHAEL KARIATI

Chelsea in 2017 and Manchester City in 2018 won the English Premiership titles because they were willing to spend more than their opponents, but the two English teams could not stand their ground in the Champions League because they met clubs who could afford to spend far more than them.

The days when the likes of Ajax Amsterdam, Porto, Steaua Bucuresti, Benfica, Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, Galatasaray, and Celtic could stand up and be counted in the Champions League are gone and now are the days for those with the big bucks.

That is the trend that is also gradually taking hold of Zimbabwean football as events on the ground seem to suggest. Clubs with money — FC Platinum, Ngezi Platinum Stars, Chicken Inn and, to a lesser extent, Triangle — are slowly taking control of Zimbabwean football.

There were days when it was obvious that Dynamos or Highlanders would win the league championship because of the players at their disposal. There were also days like in 1996 and in 2004 when it looked straightforward that CAPS United would be crowned the kings of the Zimbabwean game.

However, those days are gone and today talented footballers no longer dream of moving to Harare to play for Dynamos or CAPS United; or to Bulawayo to play for Highlanders, but it is now a case of who provides food on the table than the glamour of playing for a popular football team.

Instead of players leaving what were perceived to be small teams and moving to Bosso, DeMbare or Makepekepe, it is now the opposite as more and more players are leaving these so-called big teams to go where they are guaranteed salaries.

There was a time when Ngezi Platinum Stars were dubbed Dynamos United because of the high number of former Dynamos players — Dominic Mukandi, Walter Mukanga, Tichaona Chipunza, Godknows Murwira and Tichaona Mabvura, while Partson Jaure and goalkeepers’ coach Gift Muzadzi also had a DeMbare connection.

This state of affairs has also been translated to performance on the field of play as evidenced by recent events in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League. In the past three years, two cash-rich teams — Chicken Inn in 2015, and FC Platinum in 2017 — won the league title, and there is a strong chance that the title will, in 2018, go to either FC Platinum or Ngezi Platinum Stars. FC Platinum lead the table on 44 points, six points above Ngezi Platinum Stars, with Chicken Inn on 30 points, just behind. Although CAPS United are in fourth place on 29 points, Triangle, who are in fifth place with the same number of points, can overtake the Green Machine and complete the quartet of cash-rich teams at the top of the table come the end of the season.

This is a lesson the traditional giants of the Zimbabwean game, Caps United, Dynamos and Highlanders, should learn: football has evolved and they too should move with the times.

Football is no longer about tradition or past glory, it is now run by money. Dynamos and Highlanders make a lot of money from gate-takings and it is time they used that money wisely if they are to compete with the teams that are bankrolled by big companies.

Caps United too should abandon the system of promising players heaven on earth when they know they cannot afford it.  There is nothing wrong with being realistic or honest about what one can afford because that is what is there.
Good football players are no longer interested in turning out for clubs who survive on history, but clubs who pay their salaries.

l For your views, comments and suggestions, email mkariati@gmail.com or WhatsApp on 077 3 266 779.

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