Before I get to my English Premier League season preview over the next few days, I’d like to write about something I care about. I love when soccer and politics become intertwined, but too often it isn’t for the betterment of either.
The Libor Rigging Scandal is regarded by many financial experts to have been the largest financial scandal in history. It is suspected that up to twenty major banks raked in untold billions of dollars by altering the London Interbank Offered Rate (the rate at which banks loan each other money) in an effort to misrepresent the strength of their institutions. By altering this rate, these banks manipulated a rate utilized in virtually every short term interest payment around the world, meaning they essentially stole from everybody who makes an interest payment on anything. This is theft on an unprecedented scale, it makes Richard Pryor’s scheme in Superman III look like child’s play, and it puts every heist in history to shame.
Barclays is one of the banks involved at the center of this scandal. After paying fines of $200 million to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, $160 million by the U.S. Justice Department, and $59.5 million to Financial Services Committee, they have still managed to come away far ahead in this heist. It has been estimated by CitiGroup that by manipulating the Libor rate by just 0.25% they could yield $936 million. With Barclays holding similar amounts of trading options and this scandal dating back to as early as 2006, the fines aren’t even close to covering what these banks have stolen from everybody.
People should be angry about this, but so far it has been met with the same lukewarm reactions and halfhearted responses that have become far too common when dealing with financial scandals. Prosecution will be difficult and it is likely that nobody will be punished for these financial crimes against humanity. If you’re looking for a little humor in this calamity, look no further than the names of these financial super-villains, Mr. Rich Ricci and Mr.Bob Diamond.
As a football fan, we routinely see how corruption and indifference towards it affects our sport. Match fixing scandals and bribery have run rampant in Italian football for decades, the elections for FIFA President were practically rigged when Sepp Blatter had his opposition investigated for corruption while remaining untouchable, even the former FIFA President Joao Havelange has been found to have taken bribes while in office. These scandals prevent leadership from acting in the best interest of the sport, the same goes for politics and the financial industry.
This corruption costs fans money and degrades the beautiful game before our very eyes, even in the crowned jewel of football leagues the English Premier League. Since 2001, Barclays Bank has been a naming sponsor of the English Premier League. For over a decade now, the world’s most popular league has been associated with an institution that has been revealed to be overwhelmingly corrupt. Just last month on July 12, in the wake of the scandal revealing itself, the Premier League accepted Barclays naming sponsorship of the league until 2016 at a rate of £40 million per season.
We have all been victims in this scandal, and it is frustrating to see the tentacles of corruption tighten their grip around the game we dearly love. What we can do is refuse to acknowledge Barclays as the naming sponsor of the league. Barclays does not deserve the privilege to sponsor the greatest league in the world and have their Barclays ribbons hanging off of the Premier League trophy. Until the Premier League sponsor is changed I will not refer to the league by its sponsored name. It may only be a symbolic protest and it will probably go unheard, but these institutions deserve to be shamed and dismantled as a result of the crimes they have committed. The time has come for people to say "Enough with this shit."