As someone whose entire lifetime expenditure on sports spectating totals just under £40 (that’s two Olympics tickets – for the athletics, at which I saw Usain Bolt in the far, far distance, and for the Greco-Roman wrestling, at which I saw men in leotards doing things to each other that haunt me still), I am perhaps not best placed to pass balanced judgement on the relationship between sport and money. However, the announcement this week that the new England replica football shirt will cost a whopping £90 did catch my eye – as did the Daily Mash take on the story (warning: it’s a bit rude).
Of perhaps more relevance to those of us obsessed with AML was this recent article in an Indian money magazine about money laundering in sport. Coming hot on the heels of the conviction of Birmingham City FC former president Carson Yeung for money laundering, the article points out that the big money sports (cricket, boxing, and of course football) are particularly fertile for laundering, with the huge amounts of money involved, combined with poor financial management, the naïvety of (often very young) players, and the corruption of officials. (A more fulsome explanation of the football sector’s vulnerabilities is given in a 2009 report from the FATF.) The recent confirmation of jail sentences for eight Romanian football officials, for tax evasion and money laundering, is the latest in a long line. My only consolation is that in those leotards, frankly, there was nowhere to hide any money.