The financial situation in Europe is so screwed up that soccer players are being used as collateral. Bankia, a troubled seven-month-old Spanish banking group, is trying to shore up capital by going public and getting a big loan from the European Central Bank, the EU's equivalent of the Federal Reserve. But the ECB isn't going to offer a large amount of credit for nothing. So Bankia's collateral package included the most expensive player in the sport's history:
In response to the ECB's demand for guarantees, Bankio are putting up… Ronaldo and the Brazilian Kaka, who also plays for the Madrid football club. In 2009, Real borrowed 76.5 million euros to pay transfer fees of 100 millions euros to Manchester United, and 60 million to Milan AC.
In the short-term, Ronaldo and Kaka's new roles as securities will have no on-field effect. If the economy gets even worse, though, a situation in which the ECB repossesses the players isn't as crazy as you might think. If Bankia defaults on its loan, which is entirely possible given the state of European banking, Real Madrid would simply have to default on the original loans. Then everyone would have to sadly wave goodbye as the repo truck drove away with the majority of Real's offensive attack. Did we mention that the club's debt has been in the hundreds of millions for years?
Still, this remains unlikely. The PressEurop article notes that Spain has a habit of bailing out both its banks and its sport clubs, and the government might well step in to prevent the worst-case scenario. Things are easy enough for Barca already, after all. (H/T Chilltown)
Ronaldo's new position - bank collateral [PressEurop]