The single, greatest incentive for New World soccer to seize control of its direction and exert the maximum possible level of influence on the sport at a global level into the future is relevance. If the Old World mega-clubs continue to have their way, New World soccer domestic leagues are about to run out of it. The grandest and most prestigious Old World soccer clubs have already begun to establish their brands throughout the New World and more plan to follow in their wake. Their intent is occupation, not cooperation. Old World soccer has never had the influence over established and potential New World soccer fans as it enjoys today. Far from an accident, it is a determined strategy on the Old World’s part to profit from an underutilized market. The good news is, this concerted push on the part of the Old World big dogs into New World stomping grounds across the globe suggests there’s room within the New World entertainment industry for soccer to thrive. Whether the space exists for New World and Old World cohabitation is far less certain.
Each summer these Old World juggernauts pounce upon the opportunity to parade their expensive stable of thoroughbreds before the New World in a comprehensive publicity campaign. Veiled behind the guise of a series of exhibition matches, their explicit intent is to expand the profile of their Old World brands before the impressionable, dare I say hungry, soccer minds of the New World. They claim to come in peace but their designs are far from philanthropic. Their goal is to identify and plunder New World resources–athletes and audiences.
The affect of the Old World soccer clubs elevated ingratiation into New World soccer affairs will resemble the impact of big barn and internet shopping alternatives on independent small business retail outlets. They’ll spare nothing but the bones. The ramifications on the New World soccer market could be severe and persuasive to the extent that the established New World outfits won’t be able to compete with the offerings of the dazzling Old World additions. New World soccer fans will continue to overlook their own countries’ domestic leagues in favor of Old World glamour leagues in even greater numbers than ever before. Their youth talent identification and development programs will surpass anything the New World can muster in comparison, and the Old World will draw whole generations of potential athletes and supporters into their fold before the New World game has had the opportunity to cast an eye over any of them. Lifelong bonds formed in the presence of Old World’s soccer superstars will divert the attention of many away from the New World version of the game. Another generation of New World athletes and supporters will be lost to the Old World.
With the good of the game as their purported motivation, alliances and collaborations between powerful Old World clubs and New World domestic professional outfits have begun in earnest. These arrangements will be a decidedly lopsided affair in the Old World’s favor. Their New World partners will be reduced to subsidiaries within the Old World club’s business infrastructure. Responsible for the development of the Old World brand within their New World territory, the expansion of soccer in their part of the New World will play second fiddle to the desires of the Old World organization they’re bound to. Commandeered to serve as Old World club cheerleaders and babysitters, New World soccer will concede further credibility as a legitimate entertainment form in the eyes of their nation’s consumers. Reduced to permanent minor league status, New World soccer will have to figure out how to survive on the crumbs left behind by the Old World.
The Old World’s talent identification processes will instigate a vacuum in their favor. A network of professional and enthusiastic amateur scouts, cast across New World soccer and eager to garner favor with their Old World overlords, will bring to their attention the presence of gifted phenoms long before the New World has an opportunity to fish them from their own ponds. The likes of Giuseppe Rossi’s Italian asylum will seem a drop in the bucket compared to the exodus of New World talent at formative ages yet to come, drawn to Old World soccer cathedrals and lost to their particular method of persuasion. The argument that such a scheme favors the future of New World soccer in any significance is absurd in the extreme. How can limited access for the New World to their own best soccer players, until after the Old World sucks the last marrow of excellence out of them and has no further use for them before they are granted passage to return to ply their trade in the land of their birth, be beneficial to New World soccer?
Under the current circumstances this situation is unavoidable. The potential for profit in the New World from soccer is vast and has been virtually untapped. The race is on to see who from the Old World can gorge the most from the New World satellites the fastest. Their goal is preferential access to a measure of wealth upon which legacies can be built. The kind of critical financial freedom required to catapult the aspirations of a club’s destiny in Europe beyond those of their competition. New World money siphoned off by Old World clubs, from New World consumers of Old World soccer, to finance their Old World campaigns.
The financial advantage needed to acquire the finest squads of athletes, fund development academies, construct state of the art stadiums and facilities, and fortify their dominance among the most prestigious soccer organizations within the Old World beckons to the elite members within its ranks able to cement their brand amidst the New World’s vast financial resources. A significant competitive advantage made possible by an influx of New World money to Old World clubs in a position to take part in the dash for cash. Money that can and should flow back into New World soccer instead.
The attempted deconstruction of the New World’s efforts to establish top quality soccer within its borders by the Old World is inevitable. This is not the first time Old World superpowers have turned on less powerful nations for assets to strip. The same fate has been suffered and endured by Old World minnows at the hands of the Old World oligarchs since professionalism established itself in soccer’s charter generations ago. Soccer in the New World will be plundered for parts whenever an Old World club eyes something they consider of value. The sport in the New World will find itself forced to its knees at every moment it may appear to finally be about to find its feet. In order to avoid a future spent at work in the Old World’s salt mines, New World soccer has no choice but to set out on its own and find alternative means to flourish.
Across the globe, at the domestic level of the sport, clubs are divided between those that are fed upon and those that feast. Clubs in the New World almost entirely fall into the category of the former. In fairness, most Old World clubs reside there also. New World soccer teams and competitions are under the influence of the Old World’s oligarchs’ appetites. In order to overcome this subservient stance, the New World has to either summon the so far undiscovered financial means to compete at the auction block with the Old World’s wealthiest or produce athletes not in line with Old World palates. A team is only as good as the players it can afford to retain and the audience it can keep entertained. Once an athlete ascends to a level of excellence beyond the means of his current employer, the club has no alternative but to profit from the sale of their prized possession to a rival who can afford the finer delicacies of the game. Smaller clubs have little choice but to sell their most sought after athletes. Resist and they risk the loss of any potential to profit from the player’s transfer once their contract to the club expires and they are free to go where they please for nothing more than a fresh signature. As long as New World soccer continues to receive the short end of this particular stick the sport in these nations will remain at the mercy of Old World clubs with greater financial clout. It’s the nature of the market.
This leaves New World soccer with two alternatives. Accept their fates as an Old World food source and a foreseeable future of mediocrity. Or build a sustainable brand as an alternative offering to the Old World staple. The assertion that the New World game is reeling in the Old is a delusion. New World soccer has advanced in leaps and bounds, but the sophisticated design of the Old World superpowers dwarfs the New World’s efforts in comparison. At the highest levels, there has been no discernible shift in the status quo of men’s soccer in the modern era. The crown may pass from one club or nation to another but the power of the throne remains the exclusive estate of a privileged few.
There’s little of anything about the reality of soccer in the New World to suggest it can prosper under the auspices of an Old World soccer business model. New World soccer is not the opiate of the masses as it is in the Old World and probably never will be. It is not the vehicle out of poverty for its athletes as it is in the Old World and probably never will be. TV money support, the likes of which enjoyed by the most viewed Old World competitions, is not in the foreseeable future of most New World domestic leagues and probably never will be. For its own well-being, soccer in the New World has to become an utterly different beast to the Old World example and publicly recognized as such. The sooner the better.
New World soccer is not a charity in need of our tax-deductible donations. Like everywhere else in the world where the beautiful game is played, soccer is a form of entertainment owned by wealthy folk. It’s not show friends, it’s show business and all parties invested in New World soccer–not just the administrators and franchise owners but the athletes and supporters also–would be well advised to factor this consideration in to their line of thought the next time an Old World club arrives on their doorstep with promises to help New World soccer prosper, in exchange for the keys to the kingdom.