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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Soulless Avatars Of Late Capitalism Set Up Nicely To Acquire Another European Cup

Illustration for article titled Soulless Avatars Of Late Capitalism Set Up Nicely To Acquire Another European Cup
Photo: Matthias Hangst (Getty)

European Soccer Market (ESM) analysts the world over are still abuzz about the big step Real Madrid (ESM:RMD) took on their path to consolidating their ownership of the European Cup for the third consecutive year.

In a meeting between RMD and Bayern Munich (ESM:BMUN), the Spanish brand bested their German rivals in negotiations for entry to the final round of bidding for the right to acquire this year’s Champions League by a reported score of 2-1. The second round of talks between these two are scheduled to take place next Tuesday, though RMD have to be brimming with confidence about their chances of sealing entry into next month’s one-off final round after last night’s performance.

For as commanding a position as RMD have found themselves in, they have to feel fortunate. Most reports from those who witnessed the event claimed that BMUN actually had the bulk of the opportunities to close the deal, but for whatever reason came up just shy of getting the ball over the line enough to make the difference. In contrast, the RMD contingent benefitted from BMUN’s profligacy, and as has been a constant over the past half-decade of Champions League dominance, the Spanish outfit made the best of their luck by taking advantage of their own opportunities with ruthless efficiency.


Still, in the internal post mortem breakdowns that are sure to go on all week at BMUN’s Munich headquarters, the German brand will rue their blown chances to score when the opportunities arose. Statistical analyses support the impression that RMD were in equal parts lucky and efficient:

While some analysts were impressed by the spectacle of these two world-renowned brands going head-to-head on such a grand stage—both firms armed with some of the biggest-name expert negotiators in the business world trying to further their employer’s interests—others were left rather cold. A quiet yet noticeable segment of market-watchers could be heard lamenting that the art, the very soul of the business at hand—which was, we should mention again, the sport known as soccer, once commonly referred to as “the beautiful game”—had been lost, that the event had been robbed of the old romantic ideas about two groups of 11 athletes given the most difficult of tasks: To take control of a large, round ball and navigate it up and down the field of play while preventing the other group from doing the same, all while using only one’s feet. All the better if done by coming together as a dedicated group and working under one of the nearly infinite tactical philosophies about how best to realize this goal with the various talents and skill sets on hand in order to win, achieving not just victory on the pitch but also a sense of beauty and meaning that transcends the outcome.

Some of these dissatisfied spectators made particular note about how RMD, more than probably any company in this field, epitomized the drift from the old ideas about soccer’s meaning and importance to the new one. In an industry where many of the biggest corporations simply throw as much money as they can manage to lure in as many big-name employees as possible, without worrying about things like team-building, disregarding quaint notions like overarching philosophical structures in favor of individualism for individualism’s sake, RMD are without peer.


RMD seek to be the most successful firm in the industry, achieving their unprecedented recent dominance in the international market (though, curiously, with much less success in the domestic market of Spain) without signifying anything more about themselves or their business than the mere fact of their success. If modern soccer is about the richest teams turning their rosters into expensive factory lines where the coming and going of any individual worker only matters insofar as the next one brought in can match their predecessor in prestige, then RMD have done the most to master the tactic—at least that’s how the thinking goes.

It’s probably not a coincidence that those who follow the ESM and feel the disaffection mentioned above tend to be those who wish to see Liverpool (LVPL)—RMD’s likely opponents in the impending final round of negotiations for the European Cup—win the Champions League when it’s all said and done. If, in an ideal world, the yearly owner of the European Cup is supposed to stand for anything, though, it’s probably fitting that it’s won yet again by the company that stands for nothing in the era they best embody.

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