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足坛硅谷欧洲的金钱游戏

Ian Mount 2014年06月16日

世界杯结束后,参赛球员将重返职业联赛,其中约70%的球员都将回到欧洲。欧洲足球俱乐部就像纳斯达克市场上的投资,要么暴富,要么一无所有,就跟玩轮盘赌一样。

    2010年世界杯电视观众人数为32亿,成为世界上仅次于奥运会的体育盛事。但和大多数奥运会不同的是,足球并不只是每四年才能引起一次全球性的关注。

    范德堡大学(Vanderbilt University)体育经济学家约翰•弗鲁曼指出,美国橄榄球联盟(NFL)的决赛观众人数为1.1亿人,而在西班牙联赛,两大对手巴塞罗那和皇家马德里之间的国家德比所吸引的全球观众更多,而且两家俱乐部实际上只有10%的球迷住在西班牙。

    不过,无论足球在国际上如何受欢迎,这项运动仍然有一个“家”。世界杯结束后,736名参赛球员将重返职业联赛,而其中约70%的球员,包括南美两大劲旅——巴西和阿根廷国家队的大多数成员,都将回到同一个地区,那就是欧洲。

    欧洲俱乐部拥有世界上三分之二的顶级足球运动员。那么,这个足球产业重地,或者说足球界的硅谷,是怎样一番情形呢?

    给钱给到手抽筋

    兰卡斯特大学管理学院(Lancaster University Management School)经济学教授罗布•西蒙斯认为,由于市场上买家数量有限(32只球队)而且设有薪水上限,许多NFL球员的工资可能偏低。

    而在欧洲,多个相邻国家的联赛会相互争夺球员,薪酬方面也没有限制,这让欧洲足球界的光景跟NFL截然不同。弗鲁曼说,在欧洲五大联赛,球队70%以上的收入都流进了球员的腰包;而在NFL,这个比例还不到50%。

    这种局面对于球员的收入水平极为有利。但除了西班牙等地的顶级球队,对其他俱乐部来说,这种做法会让它们入不敷出。西甲和西乙共有42支球队,由于管理不善和球员工资过高,过去10年中已有19家俱乐部宣布破产。另外,西班牙职业球队拖欠政府的税款高达6.7亿欧元(9.1亿美元)。

    欧洲足球不相信“平等”

    从数学角度来说,或许可以把欧洲足球称为“确定性系统”。也就是说,联赛的随机性非常小。人们在赛季的第一天基本上就能想到谁会成为冠军。

    欧盟委员会(European Commission)2013年进行的一项调查显示,2000-2012年,所有西甲联赛冠军由三支球队瓜分;在意甲和英超,三支球队瓜分了92%的联赛冠军头衔;在德甲,这个数字为83%。

    欧洲足球联赛没有NFL那样的收入共享机制,大多数收入都被几家顶级俱乐部据为己有。它们还会买下所有的球星,其他球队在人才和收入方面只有“喝口汤”的份儿。

    弗鲁曼说:“从财务角度看,最形象的比喻是NFL是针对标普(S&P)指数的投资组合,而且实现了充分多元化;欧洲足球俱乐部则像纳斯达克(NASDAQ)市场上的投资,要么暴富,要么一无所有,就跟玩轮盘赌一样。在欧洲足球界,除了最大的三、四家俱乐部,其他俱乐部的处境都是不成功便成仁,特别是在西甲和意甲。”

    但这有助于国际足球更加平衡

    经济收敛理论认为,穷国的人均GDP增长率会超过富国,从而使各个国家的富裕程度逐步靠拢。

    足球领域的情况也是如此,越来越多的发展中国家球员进入欧洲顶级球队,然后把他们学到的东西带回本国俱乐部,从而让后者在国际上更有竞争力。

    密歇根大学(University of Michigan)体育管理学教授斯蒂芬•西曼斯基指出:“实力较弱的国家(队)正变得越来越强。特别是和欧洲以及南美国家相比。我们发现,这几年其他地区的国家队的成绩有了提高。”

    2012年,比利时鲁汶大学(University of Leuven)三位经济学家发表的研究报告显示,发展中国家每向英超输送一名球员,这些国家的国家队在国际足联(FIFA)的积分就会增加21.6分。

    说的具体一点,21.6分可以让斯洛文尼亚国家队的排名从第29名上升到第24名,一举超过厄瓜多尔、阿尔及利亚、瑞典、波黑和埃及。

    当然,国际足球尚未实现充分收敛

    上述研究报告的作者之一杰伦•斯科凯特说:“我觉得至少今后10年不会有非洲球队捧起世界杯,或者进入决赛。我很愿意看到这样的局面。这是全球化的一部分。但要让它成为可能,这些国家首先需要大力发展经济。”

    说的更明白一点,鲁汶大学的这三位教授认为,发展中国家的人均GDP每提高7272美元,其国家队的国际足联积分也可以增加21.6分。

    在这方面,跟体育无关的那些经济领域可以从世界杯那里有所借鉴。这三位经济学家把足球水平的提高和科技进步进行了类比。他们认为,发展中国家可以实施让海外侨民回国任教的政策,进而推动经济发展。

    他们写道:“侨民的系统性回归很重要,就连暂时回归也是如此。决策者可以制定计划,协助有一技之长的侨民回国一段时间,以便向国内同胞传授他们在国外学到的技能和技术。”

    最终,这可能比获得21.6个国际足联积分更为重要。(财富中文网)

    译者:Charlie

    With a home TV audience of 3.2 million in 2010, the World Cup is only surpassed by the Olympic Games as the planet’s biggest sporting spectacle. But unlike most Olympic sports, soccer isn’t a one-off that only grabs international attention once every four years.

    In Spain’s national league, every El Clásico match between archrivals Barcelona and Real Madrid draws a larger worldwide audience than the 110 million fans who watch the NFL Super Bowl, notes John Vrooman, a Vanderbilt University sports economist. And only 10% of Barcelona and Real Madrid fans actually live in Spain.

    But as internationally popular as the sport may be, it has a home. After the World Cup wraps up, some 70% of the 736 players involved–including most of the players on South American powerhouse teams Brazil and Argentina–will head back to day jobs at professional teams in one place: Europe.

    Europe employs over two-thirds of the best soccer players in the world. So, what is this industry cluster–this Silicon Valley of soccer–like?

    It pays until it hurts

    With a limited number of buyers in the market (one 32-team league) and a salary cap in place, many NFL players are likely underpaid, according to Rob Simmons, a professor of economics at the Lancaster University Management School.

    But with leagues in multiple neighboring countries competing for player services and no salary cap to put on the breaks, European soccer is a different beast altogether. Players receive over 70% of team revenues in the top five European soccer leagues, says Vrooman, compared to less than half in the NFL.

    That setup is great for players’ checkbooks. But it’s a road to insolvency for all but the top teams in places like Spain. Because of bad management and salary overspending, 19 of the 42 teams in Spain’s top two leagues have declared bankruptcy in the last decade. And professional teams owe the Spanish government670 million euros ($910 million) in back taxes.

    It doesn’t believe in “parity”

    European soccer is what a mathematician might call a “deterministic system.” That is, there is very little randomness in the league. You generally know who will win from the season’s first day.

    A 2013 study published by the European Commissionfound that between 2000 and 2012 the same three teams won 100% of the league titles in Spain, 92% in Italy and England, and 83% in Germany.

    Without an NFL-style shared revenue system, most of the money flows to a few top teams, who buy all the star players and leave everyone else with the talent and revenue crumbs.

    “The best financial analogy would be like comparing the NFL as a well-diversified S&P index portfolio with an all-or-nothing NASDAQ roulette wheel,” says Vanderbilt’s Vrooman. “European football, particularly in La Liga (Spain) and Serie A (Italy) is make-it-or-break-it unless you are one of the top three or four clubs.”

    But it’s helping to make international soccer more equal

    In economics, “convergence” theory holds that poor countries will see their per-capita GDP increase faster than that of rich countries, bringing the wealth of nations closer together over time.

    That is what’s happening in soccer, as more players from developing countries go to play on top teams in Europe and then bring the skills they learn back to their national clubs, in turn making them more competitive in international play.

    “Weaker nations’ [teams] are getting stronger,” saysStefan Szymanski, a sports management professor at the University of Michigan. “Particularly against European and South American countries, we’ve seen countries from other regions have better results in recent years.”

    In a 2012 research paper, three economists at the University of Leuven in Belgium found that every player a developing country sent to play in England’s Premier League translated into 21.6 extra points in therankings from the international soccer body FIFA.

    To put that into perspective, an extra 21.6 points would allow Slovenia to jump from No. 29 to No. 24 place in the rankings, leapfrogging Ecuador, Algeria, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Egypt.

    Of course, international soccer hasn’t reached perfect convergence yet

    “I don’t think you’ll have an African team winning or getting to the final at least for the next 10 years,” says Jeroen Schokkaert, one of the authors of the paper. “I would love to see it. It’s part of globalization. But the countries first need solid economic development before that is possible.”

    Driving this home, the Leuven professors note that developing countries could also get a 21.6 jump in FIFA points by increasing per capita GDP by $7,272.

    In this case, the non-sports economy could learn something from the World Cup. Comparing soccer skills to technological development, the University of Leuven economists suggest that developing countries could improve their economic development by implementing policies to bring back emigrants to teach.

    “Systematic return of migrants, even temporary, is important,” the authors write. “Policy makers could design programs that facilitate the return of skilled migrants for short periods of time in order to share the skills and technology acquired abroad with their home countries peers.”

    In the end, that’s probably more important than 21.6 additional FIFA points.

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