Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The cost of playing in Europe

Twin disasters in European soccer 

There is no denying the tragedy of the Munich air disaster. So many young lives were lost that night in 1958, many saw the greatest English soccer team - if not the greatest team in Europe - died that night. 

For many years, the pilot got blamed for not cancelling the take-off - he has since been cleared of blame. What commentators forget is they are viewing matters from now, not back in the late 1950's.

In those days, teams couldn't afford to stay the next night in case the weather improved. Even for a team of this magnitude, an extra night in a hotel in the 50's could have caused bankruptcy. Transfers for players in those days didn't exceed £25,000 until Luis Suarez was transferred from Barcelona to Inter Milan for the equivalent of £125,000.

Who is to say that the day following the crash would bring better weather? And if the weather didn't improve, at some point a decision would have to be made to fly home. Cancelling the tickets would cost money, and then there is the problem of finding 20 tickets on another flight, and the additional cost. 


Luis Suarez brings us to the second, lesser known outside Italy, crash. This crash is the Superga air crash that claimed the lives of 31 Italians, mostly from the famous Torino team of 1948 - a team that comprised most of the Italian national team of the year. The team was on its way back from playing a friendly match in Lisbon, Portugal against Benfica, when the pilot misjudged his position and crashed into the wall of the Basilica at Superga. In memory of those who died, the wall hasn't been repaired. Among the dead was the father of the future Inter Milan and Italy midfield player Sandro Mazzola

On a final note, I find it hard to believe, but it's true, in the mid-1990's Arsenal signed Dennis Bergkamp aware of the fact he had a phobia of flying. In this day, it is to be assumed that major clubs need to play in Europe to maintain their status.

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