The Artist Who Painted a City - 2 minutes read

Last week’s column on soccer’s relationship with money, and with Russia, elicited quite the flurry of responses. Many of them were kind, and as such very difficult for a British person to mention without blushing.
“Before it’s too late, can you do another update on Newcastle, and their craven, spineless, unprincipled ownership?” asked Paul Bender, suggesting the club’s nickname might be changed from the “Magpies” to the “Bone Saws.” Newcastle, though, is only one example. Soccer has to reassess its relationship with money on some fundamental level.
Fans can lead that conversation. “I had no idea that my beloved (and much despaired) Everton were sponsored by a Russian oligarch,” John MacMillan wrote. “I’d assumed our training ground ‘USM Finch Farm’ was just the location’s proper name and not an ersatz emblem of corporate sponsorship.”
I suspect more will be reported on this in the coming days, but Everton’s situation is a complex and a serious one, unfortunately. The companies linked to Alisher Usmanov that the club has “suspended” — not good enough, thanks — its relationships with were responsible for a vast portion of its commercial income. Farhad Moshiri, the Everton chairman, is the chief executive of one of those companies. It feels fragile, and unsustainable.
Thomas Jakobsh, meanwhile, asks a very pertinent question. “I fully share your disappointment, outrage, and shame at how our game has been manipulated and debased,” he wrote. “But where do you draw the line, the one that demarcates the grifters, thugs and opportunists? On which side of the line does someone like Silvio Berlusconi fall? As for nation states, on which side of the line does one place Qatar, the U.A.E., or Azerbaijan?”
This is the complication, of course. How can anyone have known that Berlusconi was not just a media magnate looking for acclaim, but an aspirant politician using soccer as a vehicle? There is a reason, unpalatable as it may be, that FIFA and UEFA are not keen to arbitrate conflicts: If Russia has to be banned for invading Ukraine, why not ban Saudi Arabia for inflicting countless casualties in its war in Yemen? This is a cop-out, but I have no idea where the line is, or should be. I just believe there has to be one.

Source: New York Times

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