We’ve talked a lot about Real Madrid’s transfer strategy with regards to Ronaldo and recently of the Tottenham-Manchester United-Liverpool story where the Tottenham chairman has reported United to the Premier League for ‘tapping up’ Berbatov.
For the rest of Europe, such comments don’t arouse as much self-righteous indignation as they do in England. In fact, Europe as a whole (apart from England) accepts such comments as part of the ‘game’.
Here are some quotes by chairmen/vice presidents of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and AC Milan over the last 2 months or so:
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, while talking to reporters about Bayern’s summer transfer activity:
“We’re not planning anything else for this summer. We contemplated bringing Alexander Hleb to Munich, but only if another player had chosen to leave us. That didn’t happen, so the chapter marked Hleb is closed.
I’m also assuming Mario Gomez won’t become available. We do know he has a get-out clause in his contract which may allow us to sign him in the future.”
Specifically, I’m referring to the comment about Gomez, currently signed up at Stuttgart, Bayern’s Bundesliga title rivals.[Sky, 23 July]
Real Madrid chairman Ramon Calderon, on three separate occasions when talking to the press:
[SoccerNet, 29 May]
“If a club doesn’t want to sell a player, why would we insist that they do sell him?”
[Republik of Mancunia, 27 June]
“I prefer not to talk much about him because he is a United player. We are in this situation as passive spectators.”
[Guardian, 8 July]
“Manchester shouldn’t be angry and should open up their stance. We can’t be blamed if nearly every player wants to come to Real Madrid. If I was Manchester United I’d be happy and proud to be able to negotiate such a transfer for one of my players. Everything would be a lot easier if United realised that they could pull off the transfer of the century.
It all depends on Ronaldo. If Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester, he’ll leave. If he wants to stay, he’ll stay. I don’t think you can keep anyone in a place where they don’t want to be, not even in a family. But for a formal negotiation to start, Manchester United will have to open their doors to us.”
Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani:
[Sky Sports, 9th June]
“The names are those that have been reported by the press.
That is Eto’o, Drogba, Adebayor, Gomez and Berbatov. Any of them would be good.”
If an English club manager made similar statements to the press, he would be cut up and fed to the dogs by the hypocritical media and the self-righteous fans. On the other hand, this sort of behavior is more common in continental Europe and from what I’ve seen (I could be wrong), it’s accepted there as a part of football (as opposed to the ‘ethical’ and ‘legal’ issues in England).
There’s a lot of ‘tapping up’ going on as well, but again it’s a murky area where there are unenforced regulations about clubs being required to inform other clubs before starting negotiations with their players. Overall though, all of this – the posing in the press, the mind games, the ‘simulation’, the tapping up – seems to be more acceptable in continental Europe than it is in England.
I’m not accusing Europe of lacking morals – far from it. Instead, I think England as a culture needs to loosen up and get off their moral high horses.
What do you guys think?