Kris Shannon: Let's get real: It's all about the cash

Add a comment
The reasons other than money that sportsmen give for switching clubs are almost always hollow.
Melbourne Victory midfielder Gui Finkler (right) made the usual comments when his move to the Wellington Phoenix was announced. Photo / Getty Images
Melbourne Victory midfielder Gui Finkler (right) made the usual comments when his move to the Wellington Phoenix was announced. Photo / Getty Images

"The club wants to grow and I want to help them win trophies."

It was a line from Gui Finkler in the press release announcing the outstanding A-League midfielder would next season swap Melbourne for Wellington. But a variation of those words can be heard emerging from the mouth of almost every athlete explaining their decision to change teams.

'They're building something and I want to be part of it' ... 'I came here because it gives me the best possible chance to win' ... 'This team is positioned nicely to blah blah blah'.

Why? Who are they trying to fool? It's 2016, sport has for several decades edged inexorably closer to being a pure business, yet athletes still feel compelled to disguise their intentions when enacting their right as an employee and taking a better offer.

The nature of Finkler's contract is unknown but, if the Brazilian were truly drawn by the lure of trophies, it's difficult to understand why he's abandoning his current club.

After all, the Victory have qualified for the A-League playoffs three seasons running, winning their third title last season. The Phoenix are on the verge of a third bottom-two finish in the past four years.

While Finkler was reportedly unhappy after being omitted from the Victory's Asian Champions League squad, the midfielder's motivation for moving to the Kiwi capital was surely centred around the number of zeroes on his contract.

Which is completely fine. Every athlete should be allowed to make the most of their talent while their health allows. Careers can be fleeting, they can be rudely interrupted, they can leave a person who has no tertiary education needing to find further employment when their sport spits them out as an untrained 30-something.

That shouldn't be mistaken as a plea for sympathy on behalf of those fortunate enough to play a game for a living; woe is them for needing to find a real job aged 35. But, if we want them to be honest, fans should be more forgiving of sportsmen who chase the big bucks as long as their legs let them.

We should understand that loyalty is a misplaced concept among athletes. Fans are loyal to their teams, certainly, but athletes, by and large, understand the nature of their business, even if most are afraid to say it.

"All people, everyone, when they go to a job, it's for the money," said former Spurs fullback Benoit Assou-Ekotto. "So I don't understand why, when I said I play for the money, people were shocked. Oh, he's a mercenary. Every player is like that."

Assou-Ekotto can't be accused of greed - he's the same player who eschews boot sponsorship because he doesn't want to "prostitute" himself to a corporation. His quote isn't about avarice, it's about realism.

There are exceptions, players like basketball great Tim Duncan or NFL icon Tom Brady, who have left money on the table as they chase championships at the tail-end of their careers. But a couple of key terms there: 'tail-end', as in, those guys have already made plenty, and 'exception'.

The rule, increasingly, sees players move teams at will. Robin van Persie said "the little boy inside" told him to move to Manchester United after making his name with arch rivals Arsenal. Yeah, the little boy who always wanted to be rich.

Brock Osweiler chose the woeful Houston Texans over the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos because he saw "something special". Yeah, the US$72 million contract he was offered.

Come on, guys, it's time to admit: it's all about the Benjamins.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 07 Dec 2016 04:38:19 Processing Time: 592ms