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Apr 8, 2009

Hands up who wants less money?

Footballers volunteering to take a pay cut. Sounds about as likely as turkeys voting for Christmas, right? Well maybe not, because that's exactly what Gennaro Gattuso has done. Twice.

Quotes from players are often misconstrued and taken out of context, but certainly not Gattuso's in this instance.

Last month the AC Milan midfielder, who is currently sidelined with a knee ligament injury, said: ''In times like this, I'm in favour of an eventual salary reduction. If the club asks for a reduction from me, I'm ready.''

And just to be sure the message got through earlier this week he reiterated his unprecedented comments suggesting that, given the global financial crisis, players should consider taking pay cuts.

''We are talking about a world that's not going through a good moment economically. If the club is okay with it, why not? But one act does nothing,'' Gattuso told Reuters.

How refreshing to hear a footballer accepting that, even at elite level, sport cannot be totally insulated from the prevailing economic climate. And as unusual though it might be for Gattuso to be advocating a pay cut, his Milan team-mate David Beckham has already led the way.

In order to seal his elongated loan deal from the Los Angeles Galaxy Beckham took a hit on his salary to make sure the deal happened, but sitting as he does atop France Football's recent survey of football's highest earners, he is uniquely placed to be able do so.

The magazine's annual list reports that in 2008 alone Beckham raked in £29.6m thanks to his basic wage and various sponsorship and endorsement deals. The 33-year-old beat Barcelona's Lionel Messi (£26.2m) into second place and his Milan team-mate Ronaldinho (£18m) into third.

While stars of Gattuso and Beckam's standing can easily afford to take a cut in wages it is unrealistic to expect those further down football's food chain to do likewise.

For example Manchester Untied's man of the moment, Federico Macheda, is reportedly on a salary of £35,000-a-year - £11,000 more than the UK's average national salary in 2008. Would he accept a cut in wages?

The only reason Beckham took a hit in his salary was so he could get something he wanted; his was a pragmatic decision, not once based on alleviating financial pressures or setting a moral compass point for others to follow.

While Gattuso's position is admirable, principled and proves that he has not lost touch with reality, his analysis that one man's actions alone will not result in meaningful chance is entirely accurate.

The question must be, is he ready to put his money where his mouth is?


It may seem like an odd time for Sven Goran Eriksson to be feeling smug; after all he's just been sacked after a miserable spell in charge of Mexico which left a proud nation facing the ignominy of failing to reach to the World Cup for the first time since 1982.

But despite this blot on his copybook the Swede can console himself with a quick glance at his bank account.

On top of the salary Eriksson received for his torrid 10-month spell in charge of El Tri he is expected to pocket a rather tasty £2m in compensation after being sacked.

Add this to the estimated £1m he received last summer for parting company with Manchester City and the £3m he got in 2006 after standing down as England manager and Eriksson has earned an incredible £6m for leaving three jobs.

It is understood that Eriksson was on a £4.5m-a-year deal with England, a £2m annual deal with City and as much as £3.5m-a-year with Mexico. But as well as knowing how to cut a good deal Eriksson also knows how to spend; while in Mexico the Swede chose a £9,000-a-month, 30th storey penthouse apartment close to Chapultepec Park - though warring drug cartels in the local area are reported to have somewhat curtailed Eriksson's luxury lifestyle.

But where will Sven's next seemingly inevitable compensation payday come from? While Portsmouth have been mooted as a possible destination, surely they have neither the finance or cachet to be attractive.

One report in the UK which might interest Eriksson suggests that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich still holds a torch - and a £40m transfer kitty - for the man he once coveted before signing Jose Mourinho.


Anyone doubting the credentials of Qatar's bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups need only take a look at plans for the world's first underground stadium in Doha, dubbed 'The Laptop', to realise this is a country not lacking ambition.

The stadium's wonderfully inventive and spectacular design alone makes it worthy of attention, but factor in the concept and execution of the $20m project and it is clear that Qatar aims to be taken seriously as host for major international sporting events.

As well as being the first subterranean football stadium - and looking incredible - it will also be the first ever open air-conditioned venue, a unique feature designed to help combat Qatar's searing heat and prove that the country can provide solutions to those who doubt Qatar is a viable venue for a summer event like the World Cup.

Sadly the Laptop is unlikely to feature in the World Cup bid because with a capacity of around 11,000 it will fall considerably short of the 30,000 required by FIFA.

But if nothing else once completed the venue will prove that Qatar possess the imagination and wherewithal to create stadiums worthy of football's greatest event and as such Qatar deserves the respect of the other World Cup contenders.

According to the Qatar Olympic Committee, the stadium is due for completion by mid-2010 and could be used to stage games during the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

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