English soccer team Manchester City offered Italian club AC Milan 107-million British pounds for player Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaká. That’s about $147 million, and two-thirds of Milan’s 2007 total annual revenue. Is any athlete worth that kind of expenditure on top of a salary? In soccer, clubs rarely sign free agents, instead openly purchasing talent from other teams (and in other leagues). The offer Man City made to Milan was more than double the record of 46 million pounds Real Madrid paid to Italian giant Juventus for Zinedine Zidane, arguably one of the five greatest players ever. Man City was offering Kaká 500,000 pounds ($750,000) a week. Yet Kaká said no.
Why did he stay? Loyalty.
Yeah, it still exists.
After what could have been Kaká’s last home game, fans chanted for hours begging him to stay. That kind of hero-worship and appreciation might have done the trick, but it’s also something $750,000 a week simply cannot buy. With Milan going on five years without an Italian championship, it could have used the cash to bolster its squad with at least three world-class players to fill its gaping defensive holes. To call Kaká ‘world-class’ would be to shortchange this 2007 World Footballer of the Year.
In soccer, the rich win, the poor don’t. You have to invest to keep winning. It isn’t baseball where the Rays or Marlins occasionally snag a World Series berth or title. In France, the richest team is Lyon – a team currently chasing its eighth straight league title.
If Milan had taken the money, we would’ve seen similar inflation around all over Europe, but this time it would be during a global economic crisis. The burden for other clubs would’ve likely fallen on the fans. We would’ve seen it everywhere,from ticket prices to pint prices. Yet, Milan said no.
Why didn’t Milan push Kaká out the door? Loyalty.
Yeah, it still exists.
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