Argentinian all-star and current member of the Boca Juniors club in Argentina — Juan Riquelme — has done something that is very commendable and refreshing among all of the negativity in soccer these days.
Boca Juniors had to spend a lot of money (approximately $5 million) to renew his contract and keep him on the team. Unfortunately, Riquelme has been plagued with injury and was only able to play one and a half matches during the 2010 season.
Because he was unable to play, Riquelme took it upon himself to do what is right. He donated his salary for the time he didn’t play to the club for improvements on the stadium and training fields for lower divisions.
“I’m not comfortable with being six months off. The best I can do is to donate,” he said in referring to the money received in his contract renewal.
How wonderful is this story? Riquelme has such a deep love for Boca Juniors, for the game and for what is right, that he made sure to express his loyalty in the most valuable/beneficial way he could think of.
Money is poisoning the game the of soccer. We’re so used to hearing about the economic aspect of the game, that we forget what soccer is really about. Filthy rich investors have turned the game into a sporadic shopping spree.
Riquelme’s story surprised me as it will you. Instead of accepting his actions as the norm, the norm is greed. That’s what bugs me…that’s what’s sad.
How do we change this? How do we find more Riquelme’s? These are difficult questions to answer, but the answer lies with the governing bodies of soccer. In order to change the direction we are heading, we need to start from the top of the ladder and create a trickle down effect. If the head of an organization is greedy, what do you think the club’s players/coaches are like? Get rid of the people in soccer that are taking it in the wrong direction.
Thank you, Riquelme. Thank you for doing what is right and reminding us that soccer is about more than money.