If we are to believe the Daily Mail (don’t laugh) Wayne Rooney is worth about £300,000 a week. All comparisons are odious but perhaps it’s worth remembering that a player with over 500 top flight appearances and retiring in 1977 earned considerably less than £200,000 in his entire career.
The question is of course problematic and the debate often confused.
The worth of anyone or anything cannot be reduced to money alone. A painting, let’s say Paul Cezanne’s 1888 creation The Card Players, sold for, give-or-take, $250 million. A private sale to the state of Qatar, controversial hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup , which helps us pin this elastic analogy to football. The painting’s value can be divided into its worth as a commodity, it’s artistic significance (aesthetic and contextual) and simple material value. Each having a relation and effect on the other.
Rooney’s worth can similarly be divided into his value as a commodity, as a footballer and, without bringing on an existential headache, his intrinsic human contribution.
You can’t argue with the, not so bald, fact that Rooney (commodity) is worth his money. Someone has stumped up the cash and that is how the monetary value of any commodity is discovered, whether the creation of such inequality is beneficial to society is another question altogether. As is his value as a footballer, which contributes greatly to his financial worth, We can also argue over his moral worth as we can over any single person and their particular moral presence.
So let’s be clear on the debate and not conflate the commodity with an attempt to examine the moral worth and interior life of a 5ft 9 ins 28 year old from Croxteth, Merseyside.