By Tony Attwood
Once upon a time the mainstream media was there to tell us some news. In football terms that meant giving the football results and having a factual run-down of the match.
Now we don’t need that because we have the internet, so instead the mainstream aims to hold its position by telling us what to think. Thus despite all the evidence that big money transfers don’t bring success most of the time, we have the endless running of headlines such as
Then just to make sure you are holding everyone’s attention, the downright stupid pops up
And occasionally the obscene
So is that it? Is that the news?
Well, actually no that is all total opinion, and if you want to know what is happening in actual news in terms of stories like, for example, the Barcelona corruption scandal you have to go searching. I found an update in just one English paper of late – the Guardian – which confirmed that the public prosecutor has decided that there is a tax fraud case to answer regarding the signing of Neymar in 2013. The President of Barcelona is now just days away from court.
The reason that we don’t hear much about this story is not just the fact that the British press don’t think it is important, while they do think that ex-manager Harry Redknapp’s public endorsement of Costa is headline news.
But also because they are lazy, and Barcelona know this. You might remember the time when, on facing the charges originally Barcelona put out a press release purporting to be the most heavily taxed football club in Europe, and at least some of the media swallowed it wholesale and ran it as a news story.
This time they have changed their approach, and have not made any statement beyond declaring their innocence. “We didn’t do it, so there is no story” they say, and the media dutifully agree. And this despite Barcelona having already paid €13m to the Spanish tax authorities over what they described as the taxman’s different “interpretation” of the tax law.
Barcelona – a club currently banned from conducting transfers because of a ban after Fifa (of all people) found it guilty of child trafficking, say that they paid Santos €57.1m for Neymar. The state says they actually paid over €80m with the rest of the money moving through a series of different bank accounts and paying arrangements. So the state says it is owed €12.7m in unpaid tax.
Now you might think this is just money – big money but hey, Barcelona has lots of that stuff because it is sponsored by Qatar Airlines and Nike, Audi, Allianz, Toshiba, EA Sports and the like and hell, they’ve all got lots of dosh. I don’t know what they think about the club they sponsor being involved in a tax fraud case, but they don’t seem to say much.
But the prime suspects in Barcelona, Bartomeu and Rosell, could be found guilty and could face prison terms of two years and seven years respectively. The club could be fined €22m also but I suspect the sponsors will have a whip round.
Meanwhile there also wasn’t too much about the Dinamo Zagreb chief executive and manager when we played them. Zdravko and Zoran Mamic recently spent time in prison, and are now on bail charged with embezzlement, tax evasion and bribery, but if you followed the “build up” as it is euphemistically known, on TV in England, you wouldn’t have been told.
And the cause of that accusation is a series of transfers, of which the biggest was Luka Modric to Tottenham for £16.6m in 2008. Other interesting transfers include Dejan Lovren who was transferred to Lyon in 2009 and is now with Liverpool.
Along with Damir Vrbanovic, the executive president of the Croatian Football Federation, are said to have taken £11.1m out of the deal, plus another £1m in unpaid tax. The tax inspector who helped them has been imprisoned.
Zdravko Mamic’s comments to Croatia’s press include the statement that, “We survived many imputations and attempts to destabilise the club. I don’t remember anyone, in any walk of life, achieving a similar success in such a bad environment.”
The accused are out of bail of over £1m and no date has been set for a trial.
In another twist, despite Dinamo having an unprecedented run of success (their own unbeaten season etc) the supporters club The Bad Blue Boys are in dispute with them, and actually don’t attend some or all the matches (I am not sure which) because the club is constitutionally a “citizens’ association” but the brothers have taken total control. I think (but I can’t find the right report to prove this) that the spaces we saw in the stadium when Arsenal played there were down to this dispute.
Certainly reports I have seen state that despite the success of the club the crowds have been low despite the fact that that the owners are known to be what we might euphemistically call “well connected” and have won the league ten times in a row.
Funny that only one paper seemed to know about all these things.
21 September 2003: After a 0-0 draw at Manchester United, Arsenal players were fined by FA for their part in a “mass brawl” after the match. The 6th league match of the unbeaten season.
21 September 2006: Ashley Cole published the autobiography which destroyed his reputation as man of integrity as he described himself as having been physically sick on hearing Arsenal’s new contract offer.
21 September 2010: Arsenal beat Tottenham 4-1 away in the League Cup in extra time. Tottenham had three players booked in the first half, as Lasbury put Arsenal in the lead. Nasri scored two penalties and Arshavin the final goal in extra time.
The Untold Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: their problems with fouls and cards, and the team
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences