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The history of football may be traced back to China in second century B.C. The sport was introduced in England in 1170 and was banned a couple of times between the 1400s and 1600s because it was associated with peasants and was thought to promote violence and immorality (FIFA, 2000). However, the sport later re-emerged and transcended social divide to become England’s favourite sport. The English have been considered to be very influential in popularizing football across the world. In 1867, the first football match outside Europe was recorded; the idea was initiated by several Englishmen working abroad at that time (Shankly, 2015).
As the popularity of the sport grew, there became a need for an international body to govern the sport to be formed. In 1904, football association from seven European countries met in Paris and formed the Federation Internationale de Football Association (Goldblatt, 2006). Great Britain was not among the seven countries because its football association was hesitant to join forcing the other countries to move on without it. However, Britain joined FIFA the following year. Under FIFA, there were many international matches, but no worldwide tournament existed for the game except in the Olympics. FIFA decided to emulate the Olympics and held its global tournament known as the World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay. FIFA continued to grow and had six Confederations and 140 member countries under its belt by 1974. The confederations included; Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), The South American Football Federation, Confederation of African Football (CAF), Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), and Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
Joao Havelange, a Brazilian businessman, was elected as FIFA president in 1974 and was the one who revolutionized football transforming it into a cash cow. Havelange along with Horst Dassler, the son of Adidas founder and an executive at the company, and Patrick Nally a global sports marketer come up with a new program having four features. First, the world would only target huge sponsors with a global reach. Second, the sponsors would be categorized by type with one sponsor in each category. Third, FIFA would be in charge of all television rights. Fourth, FIFA would use middlemen to negotiate TV and sponsorship deals (Siu, 2014). Havelange also increased the number of teams in the World Cup tournament from 16 to 24. The strategy proved to be a success with the first World Cup that Havelange run in 1978 securing an equivalent of $47 million modern money. Between the 1986 and 1990 World Cup tournaments, television viewership grew to 10 billion people to 20 billion people. This allowed FIFA to collect over $118 million equivalent of modern money in sponsorships (Moore and Scannell, 2016). Later the tournament was further expanded to 32 teams.
In Europe soccer fans hooliganism was taking over, and it reached the limit when Liverpool and Juventus fans clashed at a UEFA finals match at Heysel Stadium in Brussels. The clash killed 39 people and left 300 wounded. The fight resulted in English clubs being banned from the competition for five years, and Liverpool banned indefinitely. The hooliganism continued in Europe where soccer fans regularly staged football riots and in and around stadiums. The British police had to implement measures to curb the violence by building spiked perimeter fences around the stadiums, installing security cameras, and increasing police presence in football matches. However, the measures directly led to a disaster in the Hillsborough stadium in 1989. The stadium was full, and the fences were locked when they collapsed and crushed people inside the pens. The incident led to the death of 96 people and 400 casualties (BBC, 2009).
Development of Football after 1990 World Cup
The Hillsborough disaster resulted in a new regulation that required every stadium to sit every fan they hold. This new law combined with the fact that clubs were not getting any revenue from the television airing of their matches created discontent among club owners. This is because, in before the early 1990s, English football was shown on BBC with no competition for television rights. A group of top teams in the Football Federation met in 1991 and signed an agreement known as the Founder Members Agreement that led to the formation of the Premier League. The Premier League was still part of the Football Association, but it disassociated itself from the organizations on a commercial level. The league sold its rights to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports for £459 million equivalent of modern money for three years. This amount was the record at that time and went up to £857 million in 1996. The amount was further increased to £1.1 billion in 2003 (Rodrigues, 2016). Currently, the Premier League airing rights were auctioned at a record £5.136 billion that was an increase of 71% from the previous amount. There were seven television packages on offer, five of which were bought by Sky television network for £4.2 billion the other two packages were bought by Sky’s rival BT at a cost of £960 million (BBC, 2015).
There are also different types of sponsorship available to the English Premier League teams today. Barclays Bank sponsored the title at a tune of £40 million a year. Naming rights of team’s stadiums also come with monetary value attached. The team receiving the least amount for the naming rights of is stadium this year is Cardiff City to the tune of £0.28 million per year with the highest being Manchester City at £18.23 million per year (Matchett, 2013). There is also league shirts sponsorships that will pour a combined amount of £222.85 million into teams pockets. Just like stadium naming rights, different teams will receive various amounts. The least amount earned by a single club is £750,000 annually while the most amount earned by a team is £47 million pounds every season (Mackay, 2015).
There has been the trend in virtually every part of the world with leagues being run like a business for financial profit. Every league is struggling to sell their television rights, market their teams, and get sponsorship. Football continues to grow stronger with revenue being received from and indirect football activities having no cap. Football viewers are increasing every with the English Premier League having the most number of viewers across the world at 4.75 billion people (Dubas-Fischer, 2015). Furthermore, fans pour in stadiums in large numbers all across the world to see their favourite football teams play. Players around the world especially in Europe and America are earning millions of pounds every year. The global football market is has been constantly growing and is valued at £9.38 billion. The biggest drivers in the football economy include the United States, Brazil and Britain. The World Cup tournament was also found to contribute about one percent to this value whenever it was held (NPD, 2015).
Challenges Facing Football
The increase in betting sites and gamblers had led to high numbers of match-fixing cases causing a pandemic in the football world. The credibility of various leagues and competitions sometimes have been questioned. In 2006, a match-fixing scandal rocked the Italian Serie A that led to 29-time title winners Juventus were relegated to the lower division, something that had never happened in their 107 year history. They started the league with a deficit of 30 points that were deducted as a result. The team was also stripped of the titles it had won the past two seasons. Other teams that were also implicated in the scandal include Lazio, Fiorentina, and AC Milan (Clayton, 2006). In 2013, European police also found out that a Singapore syndicate had played part in over 380 match-fixing cases in Europe alone and reaped profits of about $11 million (Rutherford,2014).
Huge Rift between Rich and Poor Clubs
The rift between poor and rich clubs continues to grow thanks to the revenue from television rights. Even clubs in the same top division have some disparities because of the emergence of some wealthy owners who spend huge sums of money on the clubs. The top clubs are also able to spend more on transfers and afford the salaries of good players. Their efforts are likely rewarded with participation in events like UEFA champions league where their accounts are replenished once again.
Tearing up of Grass Roots
The huge spending of wealthy clubs also has an effect on football at the grass root level. Top clubs with lots of money poach and hoard the best players in the world leaving the grass root teams unattractive to fans. This also makes it hard for local players to make through to the top-flight leagues in their home countries.
Racism and Fan Violence
There is widespread racism among soccer fans all across the world that FIFA has been unable to contain. This has already started creating controversy regarding the selection of Russia to host the world cup in 2018. Some black players have threatened to boycott the event because of the racism experienced by black players in the country.
Fan violence is also still an issue today especially in South America. Scenes of violence have been observed in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. In December 2014, the news showed fans fighting on the terrace of a football field in a Brazilian championship match. The game was interrupted for about an hour and some fans were seriously injured.
Sepp Blatter tenure at the head of FIFA was said to be marred with corruption until he stepped down due to pressure from international community. Even before he was elected Blatter was allegedly involved in the bribing of African delegates to get their support. The selection of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup tournament was also said to be corrupt (Associated Press, 2015). The bidding showed an entitlement culture and breaking of rules among some of the executive members, all these happening under Blatter’s watch. These are not the only cases that Blatter had been accused of, but he always found ways around them.
Rampant corruption is also observed among many bodies that run football in African countries. Among the various forms of corruption include; missing funds, rigging of elections, mismanagement and poor constitutions. The major factor preventing African governments from curbing these corrupts activities is the non-interference clause found in the FIFA statute (Chiweshe,2014).
Prioritisation and Recommendation
The first priority should be stopping the rampant corruption that is seen to be everywhere from the chairman of the football world governing body. All FIFA elections should be monitored to ensure that they are free and fair. Assets and all other valuable of the selected chairman should be constantly checked to identify any illegal wealth acquired. Also, whenever any allegations of corruption come up against the chairman of FIFA, the leader should be forced to resign and investigations conducted. Corruption among African bodies can be dealt with by amending FIFA’s non-interference clause to exclude cases of corruption. This will allow their governments to conduct investigations and prosecute when necessary.
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