If Football is not business, then God must save Indian football
Yesterday, in Bengaluru, we met a former football coach to discuss about starting a fan-owned cooperative football club. A statement the legendary Indian footballer I M Vijayan made came for our discussion. “Results will only come if we stop seeing football as a business, for me football is a passion, not business.” The coach told us he supports Vijayan, and he doesn’t want to involve in football club business.
I was totally irritated by his statements. I asked, “Sir, will you coach kids for free?” He said, “Yes. I will. I am getting pension for my living.” Yes. He started playing for a private club. Then shifted to a departmental club. He got a central government job, based on the football he played. For his living he gets money from the government. But, what about the owners of the first club he played? The club closed down decades back due to financial crisis.
From where the club owners are getting money for their living? Whether government reserves any jobs for the club owners? No.
All the football club owners are not big corporate giants, who spend money in football for their Corporate Social Responsibility or Public Relation reasons. Most of the club owners are starting clubs with passion and expect some revenues (in business terminology it is PROFIT and in charity terms, SURPLUS). They give players opportunity to play, coaching and moreover end of the game salary. If the owner has enough money in his bank account and in his family, no issue, he can spend that passionately without expecting any PROFIT or SURPLUS.
Indian footballers have to realize that football is big business globally. For big clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, football is business. If it is not business for them, why they are not issuing free tickets for their fans? For English Premier League (EPL), football is a business. EPL, itself born out of the business interest of the top 20 English clubs. For FIFA, football is business. That’s why they are collecting billions from the hands of its sponsors. If football is not a business for FIFA, FIFA must instruct Adidas to supply balls for free to the world, instead collecting sponsorship fee. Will they do it?
Indian Super League is a business and because of ISL, now Indian footballers are getting good salary and media attention. Even, the previous generations of Indian footballers are getting decent media attention nowadays due to the buildup created by ISL business.
Business is not an ugly profession. Profitmaking is not a sin. Business will survive with profit and the profit will prosper business further. If we expect government funding for football, we are doing a crime, by forcing government to waste money. Take the case of government owned football clubs such as Kerala Police, Titanium, SBT and so on. No profit. Just spending from the tax people give. What about clubs like Mohammedan Sporting, Mahindra & Mahindra and JCT, they stopped football, because of huge loss.
So, please don’t criticize the people who do football business. They can only guarantee decent living to footballers. Otherwise, footballers play for peanuts, wait for government jobs and die by criticizing government for the failure of football in India.