The most famous trophies in the world on display in Dubai
International trophy case on display for the celebrations of Alessandro Del Piero and Cristiano Ronaldo
UEFA General Secretary, Gianni Infantino: Italy overtaken by Spain in last 10 years
Rosell of Barcelona: we want one euro from every person in China via Internet
Pinto Da Costa of Porto: I’ll teach you how to win and sell to the European bigs
Dubai the World Cup, the Champions League and Europa League trophies, and the Globe Soccer awards, all on display in the most visually striking city of the 21st century, together with the key players, the UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alessandro Del Piero, Sandro Rosell and Barcelona, Pinto Da Costa and Porto, the coach of England’s national team Fabio Capello, and the candidates for the agents’ award, Mendes and Raiola, plus the rest of the international football sector coming together from 50 countries with over 600 delegates.
This was the opening of the football festival in the United Arab Emirates, a day worthy of the 6th International Sports Conference and the 3rd edition of Globe Soccer, acknowledged by its top-level guests as a major success. “The presence of the most important trophies in the world and the involvement of chairmen of the clubs that are champions in Europe” said Gianni Infantino, “are proof of the quality of this event which I am honoured to take part in. For this I thank the Dubai Sports Council and BC Communication which have managed to develop this event in the interests of football.”
Talking of financial fair play and setting out its goals, he said:”We are trying to encourage correctness over the long term, in a world which asks for practical and sustainable approaches. It’s the rule of breaking even, you cannot spend more than you generate, at least as a general rule, leaving the door open for periods of investment and respecting the initiatives focussed on infrastructure.”
Let’s call this infrastructure stadia and hear what Gianni Infantino has to say about the Italian situation:”The speed of change is striking. Just ten years ago the leading Italian and Spanish clubs, which were in the top 10, had similar turnovers, around 200 million euro. Today the Spanish clubs are at 400 million and the Italians are stuck at 200, while in Germany Bayern Munich saw its turnover rise by 50 million euro thanks to new income from the stadium. Other income sources are needed, because the problem is not the increase in revenues, which have been constantly rising, but the overall losses, which have increased from 700 million in 2008 to one and a half billion in 2010. Today 56 percent of teams are making a loss, but this means that 44 percent are already breaking even, a positive sign if we want to see it that way.”
Italian football is behind in terms of stadia. It hurts to hear it be said abroad in front of everyone, and it hurts even more to hear the President of Barcelona explain that they have already gone beyond the stadium:”For us this issue is not on the agenda. Nou Camp hosts one and a half million visitors a year, is regularly sold out, has a Nike outlet which turns over more than its stores in London and New York, we have 180 thousand members and we don’t accept them if they are aged under 14 because we want to see committed supporters who know that you cannot change your allegiance. So on this side we don’t have any room to grow. We are looking at what technologies and the Internet can offer, we are focussing on Asia and in particular on China, without overlooking Korea and Japan. China provides the possibility of 1.6 billion contacts. Our website, which is run by a leading-edge Chinese company, is aiming to raise 1 euro for every person in China over time, which would be 1.6 billion euro. That’s not too bad. On financial fair play we must work hard to avoid mistakes: we in Spain, along with Real Madrid, Athletic Madrid and Bilbao, are associations. We can’t call for share capital increases. So there are two different tracks for action and this must be taken into account”.
The Porto of Pinto Da Costa has won 53 titles, 24 of them in the 21st century and is a kind of miracle: “We have managed to win four international trophies in recent years, while keeping the club’s finances at break-even. Our secret is the transfer market. We have sold in Italy, Spain, France, England, Germany, and Russia, since the era of Fernando Couto and Sergio Concenciao, up to the point of promoting the sale of coaches, with Mourhino and Villas Boas to Abramovich. We are also looking at a new 52,000 seat stadium and we are looking to create value from our youth scheme. We are not English, German, Italian or Spanish, but we do our job well and we are happy to accept financial fair play.”
The moral is that the crisis is not bringing football to its knees. Infantino says that turnover is up, Rosell dreams of China and Pinto Da Costa is enjoying his success-based supermarket. Only Branchini, an experienced FIFA agent, is worried about the future: “Given the clear definition of our role, we ask for protection and transparency also in our duties. The money owed to agents is perfectly respectable just like all the other debts generated in the system. Whoever does not pay their debts just to be competitive must be punished by financial fair play without any distinction among the types of debt. Agents are no different from the other categories.”
Del Piero and Ronaldo
Enthusiasm and passion for Del Piero, winner of a Globe Soccer Career Award, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Award for the record of multiple-scoring games. The duo held centre stage amidst applause and questions, just a few feet away from the World Cup which Alex held in 2006: “You’ll win it too, Cristiano, I hope you do, it’s an extraordinary feeling, nothing compares to holding that trophy in your hands.” Del Piero’s hope for Ronaldo was met with a surprising admission: “Alessandro you have been my role model, the champion that I have always admired and who has been my reference point. I also hope to lift up that Cup one day and to manage to follow your example and keep playing for many more years.”
Cristiano and Alessandro were masters of the event, always willing, smiling and ready to provide their support for the children. “It’s our duty, our first duty. We love them and we will always do what we can for them”. And in Dubai they promoted the auction for Save the Children, following the Globe Soccer Awards gala dinner, which saw them both lift a new trophy in their careers.