The Brazilians call soccer “El Jogo Bono”. In English, this translates to the beautiful game and it is an appropriate description of football. Soccer is truly a beautiful game because it has the power to unite humanity. This game is full of thrills and excitement and this partly explains its global popularity. In this article, we are going to look at the origin of the sport, the development of soccer and its place in the global sports industry today.
History of Soccer
It is not too state precisely how football began but there are indications that this sport existed over 2000 years ago in ancient China and ancient Rome. People in Central America and Greece also claimed to have played this game many years ago. However, what we do know is that the English made important contributions to the rules of the game. They introduced rules against tripping of opponents and they started the handball rule. The first World Cup was hosted by Uruguay in 1930 and this marked the beginning of a great soccer fiesta. Every four years, a different country hosts the World Cup. This global competition brings the best countries of the world together to compete for the ultimate soccer prize.
Soccer as Big Business
Apart from the thrills and excitement that go with soccer on the pitch, the soccer industry is big business. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry and it provides employment to many people across the globe. Football clubs employ players, coaches, medical doctors, administrators and other backroom staff. Some of these clubs even have their own radio and TV stations and broadcast important programs using their print and electronic platforms. In addition, the top soccer clubs run reputable online and offline stores where they sell merchandise to committed fans. The rise of cable TV has boosted the incomes that soccer clubs generate across the globe. Many stations compete to buy soccer broadcast rights and when they transmit these matches, everybody makes profit from the deal. Soccer clubs get cash from TV money. Corporate organizations advertise their goods and services during live matches and the countries where these deals happen get taxes and revenue from the football cash.
The Big Soccer Leagues
When it comes to soccer leagues, not all football teams are on the same level. The elite soccer teams of Europe are the cream of the crop. These teams have a huge fan base, they generate big money and they have some of the best players in the business. According to a recent list released by Forbes, the top soccer clubs are Real Madrid Football Club, FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. These clubs occupy the top five positions in terms of current value and they are valued at billions of dollars. In fact, the five soccer clubs above are in the $2.6-$4.2 billion range. Behind these clubs on the value chain are Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspurs and Juventus. These five clubs are in the $1.5-$2.2 billion dollar range. Behind the top 10 clubs, you have another five clubs occupying the number 11-15 positions. These clubs are Paris St Germain, Atletico de Madrid, Borrussia Dortmund, Shalke 04 and Inter Milan. These clubs are valued in the $600 million to $1 billion dollar range. The 15 clubs listed above are the top guns in European soccer and they are always present in the prestigious UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.
Other Soccer Clubs
Outside the top 15, the clubs above are in the top 20. These clubs are AS Roma, West Ham United, AC Milan, Everton and Newcastle United. Now, it would be wrong to assume that all the top soccer clubs on planet earth are in Europe. There are many reputable football clubs outside Europe. These include Sao Paulo, Santos, Plameiras and Corinthians in Brazil. In Russia, the top dogs are Zenith St Petersburg and CSKA Moscow. In China there are great clubs like Guangzhou Evergrande and Beijing Guoan while Netherlands have iconic soccer clubs like Ajax and PSV. Other great soccer clubs include FC Porto, Benfica, Copenhagen, Red Star Belgrade and Club Brugge.
How Soccer Clubs Make Money
Football is a business so it is important to look at the numbers. Like every business, making money in football comes down to minimizing costs and maximizing profits. Soccer clubs make money by operating shrewdly in the soccer transfer market. In simple English, this means buying players from a relatively low amount of money and selling the same players to other clubs for a decent margin. For instance, under the legendary Arsene Wenger, Arsenal Football Club bought Nicholas Anelka for just £500,000 from PSG and sold the player to Real Madrid Football Club for £22.3 million. Manchester United signed Cristaino Ronaldo for just £12.24 million and sold his for £80 million. Apart from buying and selling players, football clubs make serious money from gate takings, adverts, endorsements, naming rights, image rights and TV revenue. Successful soccer clubs also make money when they win trophies and this is why the race to win trophies is always keen.
Top Players and Coaches
In the soccer world, passionate football fans troop to the stadiums every week to watch their favourite players display their soccer skills. This is why the biggest clubs always try to sign competent and skilful soccer stars. Below are some soccer players (past and present) who have distinguished themselves in the beautiful game.
Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima a.k.a. Ronaldo
This iconic star is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. His nickname is “O Fenomeno” which means the phenomenon and he was truly phenomenal as a player. Ronaldo is Brazilian and he played for the Brazilian national soccer team as a striker. However, he made his name in Europe where he had a successful career playing for top clubs like Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan. He won the FIFA World Footballer of the Year and the Ballon D’or a number of times. Today, he is retired from soccer but he is still involved in the game because he is the majority shareholder and Club president of Real Valladolid.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira a.ka. Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho is easily the greatest soccer player of his generation and one of the greatest players of all time. He is noted for his spectacular dribbling skills, his trademark “no look” pass and extravagant feints and flicks. Ronaldinho made his name in Barcelona but he also played for AC Milan, Gremio, PSG, Flamengo and Atletico Mineiro. Ronaldinho is a widely decorated player who won major trophies with Barcelona, Atletico Mineiro and the Brazilian national soccer team. Ronaldinho also won a number of individual awards including the FIFA World Footballer of the Year and the Ballon D’or.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
These two players are the best in the business right now. They are about the same age and they have been locked in a fierce soccer rivalry for years. While Lionel Messi plies his trade at FC Barcelona, Ronaldo has played for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid. Ronaldo is now with the Italian powerhouse Juventus where he has continued to confound his critics.
Big Name Coaches
It is easy to overlook the achievements of top soccer coaches because the players usually hog the limelight and get all the plaudits. However, there are massive coaches who have contributed a lot to the sport. They include Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Johan Cryuff, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Louis Van Gaal. These people are master tacticians and they brought so much joy to soccer aficionados like yours truly.