Football, Billions, and Separatism. The Football Team that Holds the Record of Winning the most Champions League Titles – in Moldova for the First Time
Real Madrid, the football team that holds the record of winning the most Champions League titles, whose market value exceeds the budget of Moldova for 2022, spent two days in Moldova. On November 23, the Real Madrid footballers arrived in Chișinău on a private plane and were applauded by several dozen fans, who were waiting for them at the exit from the airport. However, the Spaniards did not stay in Chișinău, preferring to go to Tiraspol, where they were accommodated in the Russia Hotel.
The value of the Real Madrid club exceeds the budget of Moldova for 2022
For almost two days, Moldova hosted football players, whose value on the transfer market amounts to 756 million euros, i.e. almost a third of Moldova’s budget for 2022, recently approved by the Government.
The footballers from Sheriff, cumulatively, are worth about 21 million euros. Sheriff’s most expensive player, the Malian Adama Traore, costs about 2,5 million euros, which is less than the cheapest football player from Real Madrid, the reserve goalkeeper – the Ukrainian Andriy Lunin, who is estimated at about 3 million euros.
Real Madrid is the most expensive football club in the world. According to international reports, in 2021, as a legal entity, the club is worth about 3 billion euros. That is, if an investor would like to take over Real’s share package, he will have to pay no less than 3 billion euros. Converted into Moldovan lei, the price of the Galactics will reach almost 60 billion lei, which is more than the state budget of Moldova for the next year. In 2022, according to the project recently approved by the Government, state budget revenues will amount to 50,1 billion lei (2.5 billion euros ed.n.), increasing by 9.2% compared to the current year.
The difference between the two teams is enormous in terms of salaries too. The best-paid Real Madrid players, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard earn 1,5 million euros per month, while Sheriff’s highest salaries barely reach 20,000 euros per month. That is, Bale and Hazard make more money in just 12 hours than the highest-paid Sheriff players in a month.
Sheriff Tiraspol received from UEFA no less than 18 million euros but did not pay taxes in Moldova
Even less money could fall into the pockets of Tiraspol players if the club paid taxes on their salaries to the state budget of Moldova and not to the budget of the unrecognized authorities of breakaway Transnistria, where the tax rate is much lower. Sheriff Tiraspol and Dinamo-Auto Tiraspol are the only teams that play in the National Division of Moldova but do not pay taxes in Moldova.
Sheriff Tiraspol received from UEFA no less than 18 million euros for participating in the group stage of the Champions League. If they manage to make it to the qualifying rounds, Tiraspol’s accounts will be replenished by another 3 million euros, and if they are eliminated from the tournament, even at the group stage, they will receive financial compensation of 1 million euro.
In October, Vadim Krasnoselski, the so-called president of the separatist region, told Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilța that the Sheriff club could not receive their money from UEFA because the club was not allowed to open an account in foreign currency in the banks of Moldova. In recent years, however, Tiraspol leaders have never called for a solution to the issue, although they frequently received financial rewards from UEFA. In 2017, for example, when they qualified for the Europa League group stage, where they won two games, ended three with a draw and lost one, according to the financial distribution report published on UEFA’s official website, the Sheriff had to cash out around 3,4 million euros.
Due to the results obtained by the Sheriff in this season of the Champions League, Moldova rose to 33rd place in the preliminary European ranking of coefficients. The higher a country is in this hierarchy, the more teams are eligible to compete in European cups in the coming seasons. Also, due to the Sheriff performances, the number of Moldovan footballers who played in the Champions League group stage increased. Dumitru Celeadniuc, Maxim Cojocaru and Serafim Cojocari, all from Sheriff, joined the select club, composed of Alexandru Epureanu, Alexandru Gațcan, Sergiu Covalciuc and Sergiu Dadu.
When Sheriff Club was founded in 1997, Real Madrid already had 60 trophies, including 27 Spanish titles and six Champions League victories. Currently, the Galactics have no fewer than 92 trophies stored in their “museum”. On the other hand, Sheriff Tiraspol can boast 39 trophies: 19 titles in the National Division, 10 Cups of Moldova, seven Super Cups, and two victories in the CIS Cup, in 2003 and in 2009.
Sheriff – the main piece from the controversial Victor Gușan’s empire
The millionaire Victor Gușan controls the Sheriff Tiraspol Club, who is also the owner of Sheriff holding – the largest company in the breakaway Transnistria region. The holding encompasses almost all aspects of life in the breakaway Transnistrian region, from food trade to the monopoly in the car and real estate trade.
Gușan owns a chain of supermarkets, gas stations, a TV station, a mobile phone network, a brandy factory, and fitness rooms. It is the Sheriff football club, however, which remains his pearl and opens more horizons to the West for him due to sports results every year. The Sheriff holding, considered to be the “de facto master” of the region illegally separated from Moldova, actively supports Vadim Krasnoselski, the so-called President of the Transnistrian Republic and the leader of the Obnovlenie Party, which controls the executive and legislative power in the separatist region. The next presidential elections in breakaway Transnistria are scheduled for December 12 this year.
The constitutional authorities of Moldova declare the so-called presidential elections in the breakaway Transnistrian region illegal. In a press conference held after one year in office, President Maia Sandu made it clear that she did not intend to meet with the leader of the separatist administration in Tiraspol in the future, just as she had never done it before.
After the victory in the round match, with a score of 2:1, several media sources from abroad mocked Real Madrid. “The richest club in the world was shot down by a team from a city, where the average salary is 200 euros per month,” wrote the famous Spanish publication Marca.
On August 26, 2021, during the draw for the creation of the Champions League groups, Real Madrid began live streaming on social media, analyzing their next rivals. When they found out that they would be part of a group with Sheriff Tiraspol, the reaction of the Spaniards was cut between jokes and ironic applause. A month later, however, on September 28, at the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, the Galactics lost to Tiraspol with a score of 2:1. Sheriff’s victory was called by the world press one of the biggest surprises in the history of football.
The return match between Sheriff and Real Madrid took place on Wednesday, November 24, in Tiraspol. All tickets had been sold in just one hour, the prices ranged from 30 to 600 euros.