Sunday, 18 November 2012

Can footballers’ wages be justified?

by Daniel Hearn

With top footballers’ wages rising massively over the last decade or so, football is the subject of debate as to whether footballers are worth the extravagant salaries they are paid. Many argue that it is not fair that footballers get paid such huge salaries for 'chasing a ball around a pitch for 90 minutes' while nurses, who are of great social value, average a measly (in comparison) £18000-£35000 a year. Initially, it appears that there is cause for debate because footballers like Samuel Eto’o who appear to offer little, if any, social benefit, make more than £35000 in a week! A breakdown of Eto’o’s wages is shown in the image to the right:

His wages do indeed appear excessive, but surely there must be a reason for this. In actual fact, there are a number of reasons that soon shed light on why footballers’ wages so extortionate

Supply and demand

A key concept in economics is that prices in a free market are determined by the market forces of demand and supply. Due to the scarcity of naturally talented footballers, there is a lack of supply to meet the demand (shortage). This allows the suppliers (the footballers/their agents) to have great power to demand high wages.
On the other hand, nurses whilst highly trained do not necessarily rely on having a natural talent which is in short supply. This means that there is potentially significant elasticity in the supply and they are unable to demand high wages based on scarcity of supply.

Private vs. public sector
Another factor differentiating footballers’ wages from nurses is that footballers belong to the private sector. This means that the employers are able to pay whatever they see fit to a player. Talented footballers can earn millions for the parent club through ticket sales and merchandising, and this will be reflected in their salary. The big names, such as Ronaldo, Beckham and Rooney can return their transfer costs and salary many times over in merchandising alone.
However nurses mainly work in the public sector, meaning their pay will depend on the allocation of spending to that sector by the government. Due to this, nurses’ wages tend to be fairly low as the government simply cannot afford to pay nurses what might be considered their true social worth.

Difference in quality
It also should be noted that only the top footballers are normally taken into account when this debate is discussed. Outside of the top leagues many footballers find themselves on wages much lower than the average nurse and have to work two jobs just to support themselves. So in proportion, very few footballers actually do hit the top salaries. On that basis it can be argued that this is just like any other profession; lawyers for instance – the best barristers will be paid very well, while those lower down the pecking order may only just get by.

Length of career
Another big factor in determining the wages of footballers is that their careers are normally fairly short, only being at the peak for around 15 years. Few manage to remain at the top level in football as they approach their forties and so they must be paid to make up for the income that will cease when their career ends.
Meanwhile, nurses are able follow their careers for the majority of their life. Nurses tend to work for many years before retiring at around their sixties. So, despite the difference in wages, nurses tend to have a much longer career than footballers and so are able to earn a salary for a longer portion of their lives.

Social cost
An argument that some footballers use to justify their wages is that at the most talented and successful players live a life under the microscope, just like many other celebrities. This comes as a great cost to their social life as they will often be followed by photographers, so that even the most innocent actions can be exposed and frowned upon. As for nurses, they are able to go out when they are off hours and do whatever they want (within reason), while footballers private lives become public property.

So, should footballers really be singled out for their “unfair” wages? It may be a rather prejudiced view that footballers are deemed to have wages beyond their real worth. Wages are not a sign of social worth; they are a result of demand and supply and how much the perceived value of a person is to their employer. This logic dismantles the debate and does indeed rationalize the salaries of footballers. If anybody wants to apportion blame for footballers’ wages, it is the capitalist system that allows this extravagant compensation to be paid in the first place!

1 comment:

  1. La reflexión podría completarse si, por el lado de la demanda, observáramos una sociedad dispuesta a pagar precios exhorbitantes por una camiseta de un jugador de fútbol...
    fantástico blog!!!


Hi there!

We'd love it if you'd share your thoughts and ideas. Don't forget to check back after commenting because we try to reply to all of your comments.

Just remember to be nice, please!