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Soccer Teams Scramble as Transfer Window Closes by Fnu G Balamurali

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With the current transfer window shuffling European soccer teams around, we are seeing unprecedented relegation fees, such as Neymar Jr.’s U.S$ 264 million move to Paris-Saint Germain.

The transfer window for the English Premier League began with surprising swaps of players between clubs, causing commotion among fans and pundits, but this season has also provided record numbers for transfer fees and team spending.

Manchester City alone has assembled a team that cost them U.S$ 232.3 million this year; 6800 times the cost of undergraduate tuition at Notre Dame De Namur University this year. The net worth of their new team holds the record for being the most expensive to have ever been assembled, valued at U.S$ 1.023 billion. These numbers have not only been amusing to soccer fans but have also raised concerns of the sport’s future.

“Can these teams really make that much money off one player?” said Senior Rene Roque. Her concerns are shared by many soccer fans around the world.

Transfers affect a player’s performance in their club team and national team and experienced players are well sought-after as they have proven to increase the performance of the rest of their team. In the recent past, teams would be rushing to sign less experienced players that show most promise. Revealing a “diamond-in-the-rough” would not only bring the club a better reputation, but also draw better signings for the future.

More people have started showing interest in the sport, but high costs to break contracts could also be detrimental. Individuals become brands. Clubs may sell enough merchandise, venue tickets and sponsorship revenues to cover their high costs, the sport itself becomes centered around the business aspect and there is fear that players would be merited on celebrity rather than performance, like Formula 1 in the 80’s.

When inquired on viewership, freshman soccer fan Jesus Mendoza said “The media coverage on this transfer season has been incredible, riled by the high transfer fees. That alone might get more people interested in soccer!”

With this inflation, skeptics like Sportscorp’s Marc Ganis argue “There is no way for it to make economic sense!” regarding PSG president Al-Khelaifi’s comments about turning Neymar Jr.’s cost into profit.

The inflation is most attributed to the business tactics used by club in recent times; when a player starts to appeal to another team, his/her price is almost always increased to great lengths, sometimes to the point of ridicule.

FIFPro, an organization made up of representatives who give out awards for fair play in soccer, claims “…an inflated and distorted market, with escalating transfer fees at the heart of it, has helped to destroy competitive balance”, and that the “…transfer rules governed by FIFA are anti-competitive, unjustified and illegal.”

Senior April Saldana disagreed with nay-sayers “…these fees are appropriate for the talent they bring to the team”, as they “…greatly improve the quality of a team with their expertise.”

Coupled with the demise of honing youth players, the business of soccer may be taking a stark turn towards commercialization. Smaller clubs, however, are benefitting from the willingness of larger teams to fork out high transfer fees. For instance, Monaco purchased four players after selling their 18-year-old prodigy, Mbappe, to PSG for U.S$ 242 million. As money from outside the sport gets pumped into the ecosystem, there is also a good chance for the sport to grow.

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