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Billionaires Vs. Millionaires: What The MLB Lockout Could Mean For Soccer

The Major League Baseball lockout is a perfect example of the greed of owners — and the dangers they pose for other sports.

Eleven months ago, the wealthiest and most successful powers in European football broke away from their domestic leagues to form what was known as the European Super League. 

The league's motto was: "The best clubs. The best players. Every week." This meant no more away trips to Burnley for Manchester City or midweek Copa del Rey fixtures in obscure provincial towns for Barcelona. 

Every game would be under the lights at the Etihad or Camp Nou featuring the biggest names in the world.

Within 48 hours of its unveiling, the Super League collapsed — the result of immense opposition from fans and those involved with the game.

The league disintegrated for the same reason it was founded: the immense greed of the wealthiest of the wealthy. What club owners saw as an opportunity to line their pockets was perceived (correctly) as another soulless money-making operation that alienated the grassroots of the game.

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Stateside, that same greed is currently on display, only from a different group of owners. Major League Baseball has officially been in a lockout since Dec. 2, 2021, as the players and owners have failed to settle on a collective bargaining agreement.

Commissioner Rob Manfred and his entourage of billionaire cronies have repeatedly shot down reasonable proposals from the MLB Players Association regarding increased pay and freedom of movement for players.

MLB then has the audacity to blame the players for games being canceled, all while refusing to negotiate. This is collusion, plain and simple. 

The struggle between owners and players is often billed as a fight between billionaires and millionaires, but that could not be further from the truth. In Major League Baseball, 71 percent of players make less than $1 million a year — and that's not counting the thousand-plus minor leaguers who are not even paid a living wage.

In soccer, for every Neymar, there are innumerable players on the fringe of the first team fighting for a full-time contract or toiling in the lower leagues. 

This isn't about the one percent getting richer; this is about getting a fair shake for the guys at the bottom of the pyramid.

The figures the players are fighting for are relative peanuts to the owners but could make a world of difference for a backup whose career could be over with one buckle of the knee. 

It's pathetic, it's greedy, but it's what you would expect from a bunch of billionaires who only care about the length of their bank account balance. If you're lucky, your team's owner might even care about winning too.

None of this should really come as a surprise though. Athletes have always been a commodity exploited by owners, and the MLB lockout has made it clear the owners don't care whether games are even played as long as they can flex their power. They are trying to take the power away from the players and are ignoring the voices of the fans. 

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The one thing working in favor of soccer players is that they will always control financial negotiations because the sheer number of professional clubs makes collusion impossible. There will always be one club willing to out-bid another club, and the extent of player mobility means that no league has a monopoly on the world's talent.

The concern in Europe though is not wages, rather the amount of work players have to put in to earn their keep. Successful clubs play upwards of 60 competitive matches within a nine-month period, which doesn't even include international fixtures.

Owners are always looking to add more matches to an already packed schedule, which only leads to an increase in injuries and a decrease in on-field quality. Again, the money-makers are the only ones who benefit.

Then there are the top teams that judge themselves to be too good for their domestic leagues. They want to regularly play lavish fixtures against each other under the European lights that will quickly become devoid of any sort of excitement.

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The decisions made now affect the futures of these sports, and it is important to make sure these choices benefit future generations.

What has become clear is that the fans and the players are the ones who control the game. When working together, they have the ability to fight back against the billionaires and defend what is right — whether that be big changes or keeping the game the same.

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