Graham Cummins: Arsenal playmaker Ozil doesn't deserve the flak he gets

Graham Cummins: Arsenal playmaker Ozil doesn't deserve the flak he gets

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil gestures to the fans during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth.

THE return of fans to English football means we are getting closer to the stage when we will see full stadiums again. Football hasn’t been the same without supporters.

Besides the lack of atmosphere in the grounds, empty stadiums have caused financial hardship for clubs.

Clubs have put players in the awkward position of trying to accept pay-cuts during the pandemic, a position that clubs should no longer be putting players in now that fans have returned to games.

Football is a wealthy industry but even the world’s biggest and richest clubs have suffered because of the global pandemic. Manchester United saw revenue drop 19% to €569m and numerous clubs, including Barcelona and Arsenal, have asked their players to take wage cuts. 

Players have been lucky in terms of not losing their jobs compare to others at clubs. Arsenal’s famous mascot Gunnersaurus was made redundant along with 54 other staff members earlier this year. It’s believed that people show their colours in desperate times and what the pandemic has thought is that those at the top of the football chain are more concerned about themselves than others.

A lot of owners have asked players to take wage cuts because they know that footballers are seen to earn too much money and that supporters will agree that players should take pay-cuts. These are billionaire owners, yet rather than dip their hand in their own pocket, they are putting the onus on players.

Players who have refused pay-cuts have been ridiculed but why should they accept to reduce their salary to ‘help the club survive’ when clubs are still going out spending millions on new recruits for the team. Arsenal players took a 12.5% pay-cut in April because they believed it would save jobs yet the Gunners board still sacked 55 members of staff because they ‘couldn’t afford’ to keep them on. 

You would expect a club, that had to let go such vast numbers of staff -who wouldn’t haven’t been earning anywhere near what a player earns – to be careful when it comes to spending money. 

Mesut Ozil.
Mesut Ozil.

The Gunners spent €50 million on Thomas Partey on the final day of this summer’s transfer window, yet somehow Mesut Ozil will get the blame if Arsenal go into major financial difficulties because he earns such a vast salary and refused to take a pay-cut.

I can imagine that not everyone in the Arsenal dressing room would have been happy when Partey walked in the door. Some of the Arsenal players must be thinking that they have reduced their salary to pay for Partey’s.

Supporters are too quick to blame players and owners are too happy to stand by and let them do so.

There’s always more to a story than what the club are saying. Ozil didn’t force Arsenal to give him such a lucrative contract and he’s proven to be right as to why he refused to take a pay cut. Ozil doesn’t seem to be disruptive or a ‘bad egg’ like other players in his situation would be. 

We don’t hear about the World Cup Winner being fined for being late or missing training, he’s continuing his professionalism. The fact that Ozil didn’t make Arsenal’s 25-man Premier League squad tells me there’s more to this story than the club are allowing us to hear.

Lionel Messi. Picture: AP Photo/Joan Monfort
Lionel Messi. Picture: AP Photo/Joan Monfort


Similarly, Barcelona asked their players to take a pay-cut. The club made it public knowledge, that if the players refused a decrease in wage, the club would be in financial trouble. Lionel Messi is reportedly earning €565k net a week. 

It’s no secret the Argentinean was desperate to leave Barcelona during the summer but the Catalan club refused to let their prized asset go even though they knew that by keeping Messi it would cause them financial difficulty. Barcelona have been in terrible form this season and rather than admit to their mistaking by not letting Messi go, the club is trying to use the Argentinean as a scapegoat by trying to shift the blame on him by leaving him out of squads. 

Yes, footballers are selfish but they have every right to be and they shouldn’t be put in the position with the return of supporters to take pay-cuts.

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