Football is the most played, followed and loved of all sports. Its universal character and media impact make it an ideal vehicle for our shared values. Nonetheless, this magnificent sport is at the centre of a large number of scandals: doping, match-fixing, corruption and tax evasion. It is also at the heart of a complex ecosystem – in which several stakeholders from the sports, economic, media and political worlds interact – which is today heavily marked by financial excesses.
The flows of money generated by the marketing of broadcasting rights, sponsorships, transfers of champions and the fees they are paid, as well as those paid to their agents, are staggering. And this is just the tip of a complex economic and financial network that includes not only club ownership, merchandising and marketing of sports products, sports betting and ticket sales, but also infrastructure costs and other costs relating to the organisation of sports events, borne by the public authorities.
The excesses we are witnessing are socially unacceptable and the efforts made by the public authorities appear to benefit only a few privileged actors. Dangerous links are established between sport, the business world and politics. There are growing inequalities between players, clubs, leagues and national associations, between the football elite and all the others. Sensitive questions are raised regarding financial fair-play, player ownership, caps on their salaries, but also their social rights.
The Parliamentary Assembly must continue its work and, together with its partners in the football world, identify measures which could help restore a balance between the safeguarding of legitimate particular interests and the safeguarding of sports values and the general interest.