Financially speaking, club soccer is inherently unequal. In comparison to American sports leagues, which have established salary caps and regulations that teams must adhere to, soccer allows for teams with wealthier owners to spend almost as much as they like. The establishment of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFP) in 2009 was meant to be a landmark decision in addressing problems facing European clubs, yet these laws were never meant to even the playing field. Rather, FFP aims to prevent clubs from spending more than they earn, a common practice up until that point as teams gambled with their finances in hopes of promotion to a higher league or qualification for the UEFA Champions League, for example, which would bring considerable additional revenue. A 2009 UEFA review found that more than half of all European clubs were losing money on an annual basis, with roughly 20% of these clubs thought to be losing money at an unsustainable rate.


Presently, clubs are slightly more financially secure across the board compared to the pre-FFP era, yet inequality has only grown due to the unprecedented levels of spending from certain top clubs, especially those who are directly or indirectly state-owned. PSG, controlled by the Emir of Qatar since 2011, as well as Manchester City, controlled by Sheikh Mansour of UAE since 2008, were the #2 and #3 highest net spenders on transfers since 2012, sitting only behind historic giants Manchester United. The idea that a club can almost “buy success” is off-putting to many soccer fans, as despite there being a financially unequal nature to the sport, this was usually due to teams having sustained periods of success and a rich history. Yet, the case of Manchester City of such a phenomenon, as they were a historically average club that was in the the third tier of the English Football League as recently as 1999, but has since won the Premier League title six times since their Emirati takeover. 


While the controversy surrounding state-owned clubs has usually centered on its effects to the game itself, the political nature of a nation owning a team has been discussed in recent years due to accusations of sportswashing, defined as the use of sports as a means to improve reputations tarnished by wrongdoing. Its use as a political instrument can be seen as early as the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany, with the global love of sports proving to be incredibly effective in distracting the public away from controversy. The 2021 takeover of Newcastle United by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia came under considerable scrutiny in the UK due to the extensive corruption and human rights violations committed by the Saudi monarchy. Many saw their presence in the Premier League, along with their other major investments in sports such as the LIV Golf tour, as a way to improve its public image, and the sale was under the threat of failing for months due to pressures from other clubs and the public to prevent the deal from going through. Yet, as a recent article from The Athletic revealed, the British government had a vested interest in sealing the deal due to their burgeoning economic relationship; emails from the British Foreign Office showed a plan from the PIF to invest $30 billion over a 10-year period into the UK.


Where soccer will go from here is unclear; there have been extensive violations of FFP from teams like Man City and PSG, with recent charges against City claiming over 100 breaches of regulations over the last decade. Yet punishments in the past have usually been limited to fines, which serves little to no purpose when dealing with clubs that have nearly unlimited resources. Addressing the political sphere is incredibly important too, as instances of obvious corruption are still too commonplace; the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, serve as a reminder of the extensive corruption and sportswashing present in soccer’s highest organizations. For fans new to the game these developments truly taint the image of the world’s most popular sport, what’s meant to be the beautiful game, and provide an additional layer of inequality that goes a step too far.  




Regular season

2022-2023 UCLA Men’s Basketball Recap

Coming into the season ranked No. 8 in AP’s Top 25 poll, UCLA had title aspirations once again despite the loss of key contributors such as Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard, Peyton Watson, Cody Riley, and Myles Johnson. The Bruins followed up early defeats to Illinois and Baylor at the Continental Tire Main Event tournament in Las Vegas with 14 consecutive wins, including marquee matchups against Maryland, Kentucky, Oregon, and USC, despite a 7 game absence from 5-star freshman Amari Bailey. A 2-game skid away from home against USC and Arizona was followed by another win streak, this time of 10 games, with the Bruins clinching the regular season Pac-12 title after a win against Colorado. Ending the season with an 82-73 win against Arizona in Pauley Pavillion, UCLA finished with an undefeated record at home (17-0) for the first time since 2006-2007.

Pac-12 Tournament

Entering the tournament as the #1 seed, the Bruins began by defeating Colorado 80-69, yet the loss of Jaylen Clark due to an Achilles injury proved to be a critical loss, as his relentless defense and improved scoring were essential to the team. UCLA handily defeated Oregon 75-56 in the second round, yet once again, a major injury clouded the victory; this time, an injured shoulder for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Adem Bona. Without Bona or Clark, the Bruins lost a nail-biter in the championship game against Arizona, 61-59.

NCAA Tournament

Due to the conference tournament loss to Arizona, UCLA dropped from No. 2 to No. 7 in the final AP poll, giving the Bruins a #2 seed in the West Region of the bracket. The tournament began with an 86-53 blowout against #15 seed UNC Asheville, as a 14-0 start proved insurmountable for the Bulldogs. Next up, is the #7 seed Northwestern led by senior guards Boo Buie and Chase Audige. UCLA built up a 14-point lead in the first half thanks to 11 points from Amari Bailey, but a second-half push from the Wildcats, led by Audige, saw the lead evaporate. Nevertheless, a late three-pointer from David Singleton extended the lead to six, and the Bruins saw the game out the rest of the way, winning 68-63, with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists from Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Sweet 16: UCLA vs. Gonzaga

The stage was set for a revenge game against #3 seed Gonzaga, who ended the Bruins’ 2021 Cinderella run with a heartbreaking 40-foot three from Jalen Suggs. Another hot start from the Bruins commenced in a 13-point lead heading into the second half. 13 first-half points from Amari Bailey saw the freshman continue his strong end to the season without Jaylen Clark, averaging 17.3 points since his injury, up from 11.2 during the regular season. However, the Gonzaga defense tightened in the second half; an 11-minute UCLA field goal drought and dominating interior play from Drew Timme (36 points, 13 rebounds) allowed the Zags to rally as they led by 9 with 1:23 to go. Jaquez Jr. sparked a 10-3 run to shrink the deficit to two, and following two missed free throws from Timme, Bailey hit a three to give the Bruins their first lead in over nine minutes. What followed could only be described as déjà vu for Bruin fans; a 35-foot three-pointer from Julian Strawther gave Gonzaga the lead for good, and the Bruins exited the tournament at the hands of Gonzaga once again, 79-76.

Future of UCLA MBB

The ending to the season felt like a massive disappointment due to Clark and Bona’s injuries, with UCLA’s legitimate title hopes crushed by the lack of Bona’s interior presence and Clark’s suffocating defense. The 2023-2024 roster is shrouded in uncertainty, as fans await the potential departures of many key players. At this moment, the only confirmed losses are David Singleton and Russell Stong, without another season of eligibility. However, Jaylen Clark recently announced he was declaring for the NBA draft, albeit without hiring an agent, meaning he still can return if he believes he can boost his draft stock with another year in college. Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell are both expected to declare for the draft as well, with both hinting at this being their final year despite an extra year of eligibility due to Covid-19. The biggest questions surround 5-star freshmen Adem Bona and Amari Bailey; both would likely be selected in the second round of this year’s draft if they declare, but returning to a team without Jaquez and Campbell would give them a much bigger role. Dylan Andrews will likely inherit Campbell’s starting point guard role and seems primed for a breakout due to his tenacious on-ball defense and athleticism. Kenneth Nwuba recently announced his return with his final year of eligibility. The incoming trio of 4-star recruits, guard Sebastian Mack and forwards Devin Williams and Brandon Williams, will likely play significant minutes due to the roster overhaul as well. Ultimately, Mick Cronin will look to the transfer portal to find significant contributors as he’s done in the past with Johnny Juzang (Kentucky) and Myles Johnson (Rutgers), and there are many interesting players in the portal. High-scoring wings Khalif Battle (Temple: 17.9 ppg), Dalton Knecht (Northern Colorado: 20.2 ppg), and Reese Dixon-Waters (USC: 9.8 ppg, Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year) are intriguing options for perimeter scoring. For the interior, 7 ’1 Hunter Dickinson (Michigan: 18.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and the #7 recruit in the Class of 2022, 7 ‘0 Kel’el Ware (Oregon) would be incredible additions, especially if Bona declares for the draft.


Adem Bona
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (2x), Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, Pac-12 All-Defensive Team
Amari Bailey
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (4x), Pac-12 All-Freshman Team
Dylan Andrews
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week
Jaime Jaquez Jr.
Pac-12 Player of the Week (3x), Pac-12 Player of the Year, First Team All-Pac-12, AP All-American Second Team, Lute Olson Player of the Year
Jaylen Clark
Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Second Team All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Defensive Team, Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, NABC Defensive Player of the Year
Mick Cronin
John R. Wooden Pac-12 Coach of the Year
Tyger Campbell
First Team All-Pac-12