Bale deal market not morals, Rummenigge says

AFP, Tuesday 10 Sep 2013

Real Madrid's jaw-dropping transfer fee for Gareth Bale is a market issue not a matter of morals, and respects rules on football financing, European Club Association boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Tuesday

Welsh international soccer player Gareth Bale poses during his official presentation at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 (Photo: AP)

The Welshman signed from Tottenham Hotspur on September 1 on a six-year contract for a fee of some 94 million euros (£80 million, $124 million), and critics have questioned the symbolism of that astronomical sum as Spain wallows in economic crisis.

"The pricing of a player always depends on the market. And this player was very requested on the market, and at the end he had that of course incredibly high price," Rummenigge told reporters as the 214-club ECA wrapped up its general assembly in Geneva.

"Coming then to a moral discussion is not easy. Real is looking for fantastic players to be successful on the pitch. I have the clear impression that they are on line with Financial Fair Play rules, and that is the only thing we have to regard," the former Germany star added.

Real, a global brand in their own right, are leading financial players in the world of football thanks to revenue streams including TV rights and sponsorship, and judicious working of the transfer market.

Bale is just the latest in a string of "galactico" signings, Real president Florentino Perez has made during two spells in charge of the club, in a drive to boost their commercial revenue and success on the pitch.

Rummenigge, whose own club Bayern Munich won last season's Champions League, said he understood that thirst for glory -- notably from Real, who have nine European titles under their belt, but have gone empty handed since 2002.

Financial Fair Play, in force since 2011, is a policy introduced by European football's governing body UEFA with the agreement of clubs.

The aim is to defuse potential debt bombs and stop clubs spending more than they earn in order to buy success.

UEFA says the rules have already driven down clubs' payment arrears by 40 percent between 2011 and 2012.

The sanctions for non-compliance include exclusion from European competition, which hits clubs in their pockets by denying them the bonuses paid out as they advance through the Champions League and Europa League.

Spanish club Malaga -- quarter-finalists in last season's Champions League -- were the first to fall foul of the system, ending up banned for one season from this year due to outstanding debt payments.

Rather than playing the role of accounts watchdog, UEFA has insisted that independent bodies should decide whether big-spending, foreign-owned clubs such as French Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco are toeing the line.

Rummenigge said Financial Fair Play was good for the game, and that while it was not an issue in the Bale case, it could rein in the market in the future.

"I believe it will make football more rational," he said. "We want to help the football family in Europe to come back to Earth."

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