Loyalty in sports is often a one sided affair. Fans seemingly will always remain loyal to their favorite club no matter how many losing seasons or failed signings occur. But loyalty on the part of the club and the players is not always evident. Is this something that football fans will just have to get used to?
So often throughout this past football season, I kept hearing player after player talk about his future with the club. Players would repeatedly make suggestions in the press that they wanted to play the next season or finish their careers at another club. Now as a football fan that makes me quite angry. It is a slap in the face to those fans that have devoted their time, energy, and money to support a player and a club. To me, a player has no business talking about any other club other than the one he has signed to play for.
These conversations occur more frequently during the summer transfer window as players and agents use the press to try and negotiate contracts. If I was an Arsenal fan, I would be very tired of hearing Fabregas constantly talk about wanting to play for Barcelona. To me, he has a contract to play for the Gunners and if he really wants to leave then he should put in a transfer request. I don’t mean to single out Fabregas because he not the only player that does this. Just today Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre was quoted about a possible move to Manchester United, “If I have the chance, I welcome the move with open arms. If that is the case I will thank God and I will take my opportunity.” In my view, Izaguirre should not make any comment about his future until a decision, one way or another, is made.
All of this kind of talk is a result of the current economic system of football. There is a lot of money out there to be made. Player salaries have become so inflated that to them it is just good business to play for the highest bidder. Most players have large egos and belief in their football ability that some team will always pay them more to change clubs. With the way things are progressing, it makes me think that the days of a player staying with one club, like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, for his entire career are quickly fading.
This negotiation tactic typically does not take place in American sports. Last baseball season, if Derek Jeter would have talked about his pending free agency and said he would like to play for the Boston Red Sox, Jeter would have lampooned in the media. The New York Yankee fans would have booed his every at bat. I don’t know if the difference comes from American professional teams teaching their athletes on how to deal with the media or not. More likely it is because American athletes have less control over their futures. If a basketball player signs a five-year contract, it’s assumed he will be with that team for the duration of the contract. There is no threat of a transfer once the contract is signed. Also, with the use of salary caps in most leagues, the ability to trade a star player is almost impossible.
Does this bother any other fans out there? Have we become to accustom to players negotiate their contracts through the press in the middle of the season? I am certain the players feel loyal to their clubs the day they run out on the pitch, but for those of who cheer in the stands, we wish they would be that loyal the other days of the week as well.