Football Industry ‘Under Pressure’ from Corona

Minjun Son

The astronomical number game is over. The football industry which has grown with enormous capital power, has also been struck by the pandemic’s pressure.

Recently, three stars of Paris Saint Germain, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes have contracted the virus after their holiday trip to Ibiza. Also Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone has tested positive for the virus. The number of not only players but the persons concerned being confirmed positive of COVID-19 is increasing.

Wigan Athletic Home Stadium DW Stadium (File Photo/ Yonhap News)

‘Wigan Athletic’ was once called the ‘King of Survival’ and survived the fierce competition in the English Premier League in the early 2000s and well known to Korean fans as Korean players Cho Won-hee(조원희) and Kim Bo-kyung(김보경) played for the club before. Wigan was relegated to the 3rd division after being disciplined by cutting 12 points for bankruptcy filing. In addition, German Bundesliga’s Schalke 04 also has a serious fiscal crisis, making the club’s existence unclear. Due to COVID-19, the football ecosystem is staggering and concerns are rampant that it will not be possible to return to the old football.

According to a debate by FIFA affiliated organizations in May, it is predicted that the soccer industry will suffer tremendous damage, with 100 to 200 soccer teams going bankrupt over the next six months due to the pandemic. The league was halted from March to June, and since the game was not in progress, the revenue earned from advertisements, broadcast tickets, and admission tickets was virtually lost. Fortunately, the league resumed, but the game was played without spectators, and the revenue that could be earned at the stadium, including ticket revenue, became “zero”.

File Photo/ Picture Alliance/dpa/sampics/S.Matzke

Also, the player transfer market was paralyzed. According to ‘Transfermarkt’, which deals with the market value of football players around the world, South Korean super star Son Heung-min(손흥민)’s value was estimated at 80 million Euros in December, but fell by about 20 percent in April to 61 million Euros. Not only Son, but the world’s highest valued players, including Neymar and Kilian Mbappe, also fell by about 20 percent. Even though their transfer fee seems quite ‘reasonable’ compared to last season, but the problem is that there are no clubs to take them right away. World-class big clubs, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, cut their squad’s wages by 20 percent and 70 percent respectively, and are running the club by biting the bullet. Therefore, all clubs are having a difficult time with hundreds of millions of Euros in the transfer market being stopped.  

However, the football world, including clubs and associations, is trying to change. In the K-League, for example, transfers from the same league that do not require self-isolation are taking place more frequently than before. Also, veteran players with no transfer fee are popular. Manchester City’s David Silva made a new home for Real Sociedad as a free agent(FA) through this summer’s transfer market, and Chelsea’s Willian wears his London rival Arsenal’s jersey.

Due to the prolonged situation, the trend of the football world is expected to flow like this for the time being. Therefore, not only clubs and associations must endlessly ponder for the wise means to overcome this pandemic, but also fans, players and every single people around the world should make effort for the day that will arouse the enthusiasm of people all over the world again as before. It is high time to ‘build up’ against ‘strong pressure’ of COVID-19 for the future with the spirit of sports aside from competition and victory.

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