532 Words on: Ownership

The other week I posted about Roma being something nobody can take away from me. The thing is though… Was that strictly true? I must confess to being mildly concerned that it might not be.

Like everyone, I have limits. I’m an intensely loyal person, and I respect that about myself, but my eyes are always open and my loyalty isn’t absolute. For example in the unlikely event Roma ever appoints Paolo Di Canio, the world’s cuddliest neo-nazi, into any role whatsoever I would be devastated. And gone. At least until he is which, given the average lifespan of Roma managers and staff tends to be shorter than a fruit fly’s, wouldn’t be too long anyway but you get my point…

When Roma took Qatar Airways onboard as a sponsor, I vowed never to buy a shirt while that was on it and I’ve stayed true to my word. I’ve campaigned against the 2022 World Cup and the worker deaths associated with it. I even published a guest post by the late great Helen Kelly about it. I cannot and will not be a walking billboard for the state airline of a country that practices modern day slavery.

But what if the Qatari government owned Roma? Because they might soon. Qatar Sports Investment, a shill company for the Emir of Qatar, is strongly rumoured to be ditching PSG and switching to Roma. Current Roma President James Pallotta has called this “fake news” but we all know what that means. He described selling Alisson as that too…

So where would that leave me?

I started grappling with this by asking a union friend of mine, who is a very staunch Manchester City fan and also a very staunch communist, how he’s dealing with his team winning titles with morally dodgy owners. He said “I made the decision right at the start that I’m not going to care where the money is coming from. I don’t want to know. I’m just not reading anything about it. It would only ruin it for me, nobody else.”

I get where he’s coming from but my problem is I already know too much!! What am I supposed to do, forget the 4,000 worker deaths the ITUF estimates will have taken place building the infrastructure for Qatar 2022 by the time the tournament kicks off?

Then there’s the realist in me who says football club owners are all bad people by necessity. You don’t get that rich without fucking people over. And where do you draw the line? The current Roma president has declared political donations to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump… Is there an element of racism in my objection to Qatar?

All that said I think the real answer to my moral dilemma lies in the answer to this question: Who really owns a football club?

Abdeslam Ouaddou said: “The Qataris think they can get away with everything, because they think money can buy anything – buildings, shares, beautiful cars – and men.” But to me, there’s never been a better example of the old adage that money can’t buy love. They might buy Roma, but it will still belong to me more than it does to them.