Foiling soccer's cash bash

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

The international soccer community has tried in varying ways to control the lavish spending by English clubs.

Team officials and individuals have politely indicated that the spending by teams such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea was not good for the game in general.

When that didn't work, they ramped up the criticism by accusing the English clubs of buying championships.

When the clubs turned a deaf ear to that reasoning, critics indicated that out-of-control spending for foreign players would lead to damage to domestic players and, in turn, the national team.

Since many club owners aren't English, that didn't have much of an impact either.

After that plea was ignored, there was an avalanche of financial analyses that was supposed to demonstrate to the spendthrifts that, with the economic downturn, there was no way they could sustain their lavish ways.

You guessed it, that didn't work either.

In stepped UEFA led by Michel Platini. They began to talk about a salary cap forcing teams to spend within their means. When it's finally implemented, it won't do much to control the rich teams that still will have ample funds to spend.

Seeing as how nothing worked, European teams watched helplessly as the English teams went deep into European club tournaments.

That put even more money in the English coffers.

Several teams outside of England went on a spending spree. Real Madrid, once the scourge of Europe, was tired of getting pushed around and did the English-team thing. It bought every player in sight.

It now has become obvious that nothing can control the amount of money spent, so soccer's governing body is attacking the issue another way -- it is going to make sure the money is spent legally.

The warning shot was more of an atomic bomb. FIFA investigated Chelsea's signing of French teenager Gael Kakuta.

The club was found guilty of inducing the French teenager to break his contract with Lens in 2007, when he was 16, and, aside from other penalties, was banned from making signings for two transfer windows (January 2010 and from the end of the 2009-10 season until Sept. 1).

It's a massive penalty for a club that competes in as many competitions as Chelsea does. Other organizations, that for years have endured poaching from the big-money clubs, flooded FIFA with complaints.

FIFA's general secretary, Jerome Valcke, has revealed there is an ongoing investigation into 15 English transfers. It could take years to complete but the message is now out there: We're watching.

You may have the money to do what you want but you had better do it within the law.

SCRAPPING 'TAPPING'

No more "tapping up," which means approaching players before their contracts end with one team and inducing them to play for another when the contract ends.

Even worse, inducing the player to somehow get out of their current contract. And no more offering inducements to families to help break contracts by offering them "incentives."

It's difficult for any governing body to control the spending habits of the stupidly rich, especially when dealing with established players.

But FIFA is trying to put a curb on what teams do with young players.

Under new rules, which come into effect next month, a FIFA sub-committee will have to approve all international transfers of players under the age of 18.

That, too, will make it difficult to stockpile young talent.

As expected, most of the rich clubs already are caterwauling about how unfair it is and how they never do anything wrong.

You reap what you sow.

MORRIS.DALLACOSTA.SUNMEDIA.CA


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