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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Chaplain blows whistle on big football transfer fees

As football fans anticipate big money bids before the summer transfer window closes this month, the Chaplain for Sport has said money has “tarnished” the game.

Last year’s summer transfer window saw Manchester United break the world record fee when they bought Paul Pogba, a former player of theirs, from Juventus for £89 million.

This record has already been broken this year by the £200 million fee Paris Saint-Germain spent on Barcelona ace Neymar – and many pundits and fans of the Premier League are wondering if the Pogba transfer will remain a British record as the 31st August deadline approaches.

But the ever-growing amounts of cash being spent in football transfers has also raised many moral questions about how a football club can spend so much while so many people live in poverty.

“Misused, money is the root of much evil,” said Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, Chaplain for Sport and CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport. “It has certainly tarnished the beautiful game.”

Besides the moral questions it brings to the fore, Mgr Felzmann pointed out that it also ruins the game itself.

“Given the massive salaries top players demand, revenue streams have to be ever broader,” he said. “So the football summer break shrinks. Consequently, the football season and transfer windows overlap.

“It’s much better for the game to sort out the teams before that season starts,” he suggested. “The managers could then work out strategies around the players they know they have, rather than wondering who will be in their squad.”

This season has already seen Diego Costa causing trouble for Chelsea as he criticised the club for their treatment of him and has gone into exile as he agitates for a return to former club Atletico Madrid. Without the striker Chelsea’s season got off to a nightmare start with a shock loss at home to Burnley.

This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:

Saturday 26th August

AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City – 12:30pm
Crystal Palace v Swansea City – 3:00pm
Huddersfield Town v Southampton – 3:00pm
Newcastle United v West Ham United – 3:00pm
Watford v Brighton & Hove Albion – 3:00pm
Manchester United v Leicester City – 5:30pm

Sunday 27th August

Chelsea v Everton – 1:30pm
West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City – 1:30pm
Liverpool v Arsenal – 4:00pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley – 4:00pm

Picture: Crystal Palace fans hold up a banner saying ‘Romans dirty money is a disease that has plagued our game’ during a 2014 Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London, in reference to Chelsea owner and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. (Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images).