There has been quite a scandal in recent weeks, regarding an attempt by big European football clubs such as Manchester United and Barcelona to form their own Super League. To cut a long story short (non-football fans are not interested in the details, and football fans know the details already), entry into the Super League would be based on invitations to the richest clubs only, whereas in the tournaments run by UEFA it is always based on merit: a team has to qualify for a UEFA tournament through doing well in its own league.
It is a good example of unpleasantly greedy, materialist values over nobler values such as hard work. Fortunately the Super League seems to have fallen through already, due to opposition from just about everyone. No doubt young people assume it has always been like this, that money has always played a disproportionately large role in football in the major leagues, but this is not true. Players used to be semi-professional, and earned little for their efforts on the pitch. They had other motives for playing: the camaraderie, the pride in representing their town, the joy of winning trophies, the fun. It was like that until about the 1970s. There has never been much money in the Finnish football league, but the same money-based values are present here, too: top players leave for major leagues abroad, where they will be paid far more.
Most of us will never earn anything like as much money as professional footballers in major leagues do. We do our work as long as the salary is reasonable and the work is interesting. It is heartwarming to see how many people are also willing to do voluntary work.
This does not mean that greed is far away from our thoughts, too, though. There is the temptation to ”fiddle the expenses” on a work trip. Or to avoid paying taxes on some building work on one’s house. The desire to buy goods that are being sold at well below the market rate -something which cannot be done without breaking rules concerning the environment or workers’ rights. The appeal in buying shares in a company with a dubious reputation: if nobody bought shares in that company, it would most definitely work to improve its record, so why do people still buy shares in it?
The Church has had to face down the problem of greed many times in its history. Mainstream churches have indeed made progress, but one still hears of small, independent congregations run for profit, unfortunately. The Bible mentions greed frequently: in Matthew 6:19-20 Jesus encourages us to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. And according to Ecclesiastes 5:10: ”Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”
The obverse of greed is, of course, generosity. It is one thing to avoid a vice, another to actively do good. Let us keep this in mind next time we are wondering whether to give money to charity or not. Who really needs that money the most?