“Why want to limit only the salaries of footballers and not other activities that operate on the same economic principles? “

Tribune. This re-entry is marked by an anthology of criticisms against professional sport: the Tour de France would be “ macho and polluting “, distributing “Goodies for the unemployed”, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games would be “A pharaonic prestige operation” squandering public money …

Politicians and intellectuals, each goes their own way, often without having a good grasp of the issues. Most recent, a forum of World by Olivier Caremelle, deputy mayor of Lille, who tackles football: “Everything in modern football today oozes indecency.” These remarks deserve our attention (The world September 20).

On the “Weight of money in football”, note that despite strong growth since the 1990s, football remains, even today, rather a small business compared to other sectors of activity: the turnover (turnover) of the five largest European championships is slightly lower to that of the Française des jeux; Ligue 1’s overall budget is lower than the turnover of its official sponsor, Uber Eats.

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What does football turnover represent in gross domestic product (GDP), today in France? Counting large, barely 0.2% … Watched by billions of supporters, football ultimately produces revenues much lower than all the passions it arouses.

“The players are slaves”

For the world of football after, ”Olivier Caremelle then proposed two measures: “Definitively prohibit the purchase or sale of players, a curious practice, resembling the sale of slaves” ; and “Decide on a limit on wages (…). A sum of 30,000 euros maximum already representing more than twenty times the minimum wage. “

On the first proposition, a historical reminder is necessary. Transfers did not really appear in France until the early 1970s, when “Freely determined duration” have replaced the “Life contracts” ; on the other hand, these changes did not really develop until the mid-1990s, with the famous “Bosman judgment” on the one hand, and the strong growth in the football economy on the other.

Read also Football: “The transfer market still has a logic”

From the beginning of professionalism in France, in 1932, until the end of the 1960s, professional players were hired “for life” by their club. Once the contract was signed, they could no longer change club, unless it gave its agreement (Kopa was thus transferred from the Stade de Reims to Real Madrid in 1956). In 1963, Kopa took the lead in a sling against this contract, declaring: “The players are slaves”. The right to move “freely” between clubs was only formally recognized in 1969, after the demands of May 1968: “Football for footballers”.

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