Cash-Strapped Soccer Clubs Dig Deep For Stars | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 15.08.2002
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Cash-Strapped Soccer Clubs Dig Deep For Stars

At a time when European soccer is counting every euro cent and pence coin, the power previously in the hands of the players looks to be swinging back to the clubs.


Football comes to a very different home as Brazil's World Cup heroes flock to Germany despite the cash crisis.

The financial bubble seems to have burst for European soccer and player power appears to be on the wane.

With clubs unable and unwilling to meet the sky-high transfer fees and personal demands of the world’s top stars, the question has reverted back from ‘who can we afford to buy?’ to ‘who has the desire to play?’

No longer is the discussion centred on the amount of zeroes on the wage slip. Recent reports document the increase in out-of-contract players appearing for nothing in a bid to get a job with cash-strapped clubs.

Cash cow has been milked, clubs and players suffer

Lost revenue from television rights has meant capping of spiraling costs and in extreme cases, unemployment for players and closure for clubs.

Stefan Effenberg Fußballspieler bei Bayern München

Stefan Effenberg headshot, as Germany and Bayern Munich soccer player

One high-profile casualty is former Bayern Munich captain and German national team player Stefan Effenberg. Priced out of a move to clubs in England and Turkey, Effenberg is looking at unemployment if he can't agree on a reduction of his superstar salary.

With the collapse of the KirchMedia empire in Germany and English clubs left in limbo by the dissolved ITVDigital company, the cash cow that provided the means for phenomenal weekly wages has been well and truly milked and put out to pasture.

Despite financial problems, the European leagues are still the most attractive in the world. The overwhelming popularity of the game, matched with the most high profile competitions still continue to bring foreign imports into the game.

The Bundesliga continues to invest despite problems

Germany’s Bundesliga is suffering as much as any. An annual budget of 100 million euros ($100 million), a quarter of the money available over the past few years, means that clubs are less likely to make expensive forays into the transfer market and players wanting a move must show a willingness to compromise.

However, a number of Brazilian stars have persuaded clubs to brave the slump and are currently on show in the Bundesliga this season, which kicked off last weekend.

The money is there to bring Brazilian stars to Germany

Every top German club has at least two Brazilians on their books and there are a total of 25 of them playing in the Bundesliga's top flight.

With Brazilian players especially in vogue following the national team's victory at this summer's World Cup, German teams are investing their hard-earned euros in South American talent.

It seems the passion for the game and the need to compete at the highest level has brought stars from the World Cup winning squad to German shores in search of a game.

Der brasilianische Fußballer Ze Roberto

Brazil's Ze Roberto moved to Munich despite the current situation.

The current financial climate hasn't stopped clubs like Bayern Munich spending 9.5 million euros ($9.5 million euros) to take rival Bayer Leverkusen's Brazilian Ze Roberto to the Olympiastadion to meet up with an expensive array of fellow countrymen.

A fellow South American in never far away

"If a Brazilian moves to a German club, he is likely to find a fellow countryman there. This makes things easier," explained Bayern's Paulo Sergio to the official UEFA website. "The more Brazilians you have, the easier it is for them to adjust to German life. As you see in Dortmund they feel very good in their group, that's why they settle so quickly."

And settle they do, in increasing numbers. Although talk of crisis is rife throughout the game, football still appears to be rich enough to recruit the personnel the head coaches covet from around the globe. It seems that some habits are very had to break.

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