A while back, L'Équipe printed a joke about Real Madrid, at a time when Florentino Pérez - justifiably - had a reputation for buying every star in sight, regardless of the price. "Real have bought Beckham," says one person. To which another replies: "And Schumacher to drive the team bus." At the time, Real had earned the image of an implacable predator, snapping up Figo from Barcelona, Zidane from Juventus, Ronaldo from Inter Milan and Beckham from Manchester United in successive summers... So the gag about Schumacher at the wheel of the bus was a fair cop. That team ended up being a Tower of Babel from which its architect, Pérez, took hasty flight. Now, the mantle of that Real has been taken on by Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG signing Mbappé on top of Neymar appears to fly in face of FFP...
They've prised Neymar away from Barça for 222m euros, doubling the previous world-record fee at a stroke: like an athlete suddenly running the 100m in five seconds, or the marathon in an hour. And, not satisfied with that, they've now reeled in next-big-thing Kylian Mbappé, a lad with a sparkling future coveted by Real Madrid and a whole host of others. PSG have won the race to sign him, in the process blowing raspberries at what we call 'financial fair play'. It's as if someone suspected of pissing in the swimming pool then proceeded to climb up onto the diving board and empty their bladder from there for good measure. The poolside attendant, UEFA, has turned a blind eye, and PSG's competitors in the transfer market feel unprotected.
...but UEFA would rather look the other way
How are PSG able to overstep the mark like that? There's a twin explanation. UEFA doesn't have the strict checks and balances that LaLiga now has, yet its more flexible criteria are still buckling under PSG's weight. After all, what we're up against here is a club/state. But it's not just that PSG are now a major footballing flagship for a city that has never had a club to match its grand status. It's also that the investment in that particular club comes from Qatar, a state which is embracing football, is to host the 2022 World Cup - and is injecting into UEFA and FIFA the money which, ever since their chiefs' corrupt activities came to light, traditional sponsors are less willing to these days. So: Paris, plus Qatar... UEFA would rather look the other way.