Football can’t live without a moral compass (Doing things the “Arsenal Way”) by AndersS
I love the Rolling Stones.
Standing with 50.000 others singing “uh-uh-woo” when they play “Brown Sugar” is a truly mind blowing experience.
No, I can’t sing, nor dance, but I tend to forget that after a couple of pints.. 😊.
Listening to Robbie Williams singing “Let me Entertain You” or Adele singing one of her many hits not only raises my spirits, but truly adds quality to my life. And I could add many more.
It isn’t really a problem for me, superstars like them make millions, if not billions. Every time I hear one of their songs on the radio it actually means more money in their pockets. Doesn’t worry me. In fact just the opposite. I tend to think, if they can add value to hundreds of millions lives, who cares how much they earn?
Why then, do I have a problem with the salaries to footballers? I have to admit it, at times I do. It isn’t rational, and maybe it isn’t fair either. It’s double standards for sure.
Watching a world class footballer at high speed in one move controlling the ball with one foot and smashing it into the net with the other is a fantastic sight. If it is done by a player with a cannon on his red shirt against a team of wanna-bees with an ugly bird on their white shirts (a bird!), it really surpasses almost everything. As an exception, I would say, give him half the kingdom, and throw in the princess too.
But apart from that one exception, I think there is a problem with how much money many football players earn. There is too much of an unbalance in their salaries compared to, what ordinary hard-working people earn. Especially, as it is fact the very same ordinary people, who in unison are the ultimate payers of the salaries to the players, through tickets, through TV subscriptions and even as the target groups for the sponsors.
I swear, I don’t envy their salaries. I am doing OK myself, and although my earnings are “just” in the region of a small percentage of what most players in Arsenal’s squad earn, I don’t feel they should have less so I can have more. No, the problem is more of a moral one.
But can you blame a young man with an exceptional talent and maybe also with an extraordinary will to build on that talent, that he seizes upon the opportunity to make a very lucrative career out of it? Can you blame him for not saying, “no thanks” to being paid extremely well, while playing a game he probably loves as much as life itself? I honestly don’t think so. That is too much to ask.
No, the problem lies in the fact that the opportunity is there in the first place. We have created societies in the wealthy countries where there is in fact so much wealth, some of it really becomes too much of a surplus in places.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a socialist, in fact I am quite a bit more to the right in the political spectrum.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t see a moral problem here, and in some way I, and indeed you as an Arsenal supporter, are partly responsible. Because when we buy a ticket to watch a game, buy a subscription to a football channel or in fact just watch a game on TV, we become part of an “industry”, that has lost its moral compass.
But what can we do? We can’t solve this as individuals. And it is for sure not my point that we should boycott Arsenal or football in general.
But maybe we can do something in another way. Maybe we can demand our beloved Arsenal to define and live up to certain values.
It is quite obvious, we can’t demand Arsenal only pays xxxxx as a maximum salary to players. At least not if we still want Arsenal to be a club that belongs in the top. You can’t have both.
I am thinking more along some of the following principles…
Arsenal define a set of values that make us proud. In fact Arsenal have already put something like that forward. On Arsenal.com under “The Arsenal Way”, you can read this statement:
What we stand for
Arsenal Football Club exists to make our fans proud wherever they are in the world and however they choose to follow us.
That pride is driven by success on the pitch. This means winning trophies. It also comes through our style of play, our focus on developing youth talent, our magnificent stadium, our broader contribution in the community and our self-financing approach.”
How we work
Everyone who works for Arsenal Football Club understands that we will fulfil our goal of making fans proud by being together, always moving forward and doing things the Arsenal way. This final element is a key ingredient of who we are. It’s about thinking about others, getting the detail right and going above and beyond expectations.
But this needs to be outlined much more, so we actually have some common values which make all of us proud, and which can guide management, players and fans alike.
– All Arsenal players must commit to the values upon signature.
– All academy players are not taught only football, they are also taught how to behave morally outside the football ground and that being an Arsenal player also means living the values.
– Behaviour not compliant with the values is dealt with without hesitation
– We don’t sign players who have shown they could have problems with living up to our values, no matter how much we “need” them.
– Part of the values is helping out in the local community, especially in times of crisis, even if it means donating part of your salary to help those in need.
– Part of the values are also to show appreciation to those who support the club.
I am no expert in this, but I hope you catch my meaning. The purpose is to demand our club and the players deserve the support we really want to give. I truly believe the power to do this lies with us fans, and I don’t think we would hurt Arsenal by demanding something like this. I think we would help Arsenal also in the future to be a club huge companies will want to sponsor, fans want to support, and ultimately, the right players will want to play for. We may need to stand for more than “beautiful football” and a rich history. We need to have our values in order as a club, as a team and as supporters.
If the current Coronavirus situation can be said to create anything good at all, this may be one of the things. It creates the opportunity for a correction of the moral compass in football.
It is quite obvious, right now footballers and football clubs are being taught lessons. Not only that there is no God-given right to enormous wealth through football. It can actually be taken away very quickly by events outside their control. Also, the lesson that they can’t count on living in a parallel society, where they have no responsibility for how the rest of the world is living.
But maybe it is also up to us fans to make sure those lessons will have the desired effect.
What do you think?