Who Is He?
The Russian is usually someone who was just old enough when the USSR fell. When Russia became capitalist, dozens of formerly state-owned companies were massively undervalued and sold off to private owners. Through some combination of family connections, backhanders, and ambition, these guys ended up as owners of these companies. How does this make them billionaires? Take Gazprom for example, once owned by Roman Abramovitch. He bought the oil company for $100 million. As it turns out, a company that controls oil rights in Russia, is worth a whole lot more than that.
In the case of the Middle Eastern billionaire, the case is somewhat similar – though slightly less capitalistic. Most of these billionaires are members of some royal family or other, and through those familial connections, owns his share of petroleum and oil from the Middle East. With literally more money than they could ever spend, going into sport team ownership makes sense for them.
Don’t get us wrong, the superowner’s first choice was probably soccer – but new rulings inside that game have slowly made them unwelcome, and unable to flex their financial muscle to buy wins. Some detractors have also pointed out that sports franchises, with guarantees of easy money, are a perfect money laundering scheme for anyone with money that needs to be cleaned up.
European soccer is the most prestigious in the world. While Brazil, Argentina and Mexico love it, there’s nobody bragging about winning the Brazilian championship, like Abramovitch brags about winning the English Premier League. But UEFA, European soccer’s governing board, has started to crack down with a series of laws called Financial Fair Play. Under these rules, teams that spend more than they earn could be booted out of tournaments entirely.
But American sports, have no such rules. The Yankees can’t forefeit the World Series for spending too much money. And under the new CBA, basketball teams only have a soft cap and luxury tax. As long as you have the money to spend on luxury tax, you can spend as much as you like.
Will He Get Bored and Go?