At one point in time, there was Fabio Capello, and then everyone else.
Of all the coaches at this past summer’s World Cup, Russia’s Capello, on a salary of $11,235,210 per year, was the highest paid. The next place on the World Cup Coach Earnings list went to the impoverished Roy Hodgson, who earns a measly $5,874,570 every year.
But there’s trouble in paradise.
Last month, the Russian Football Union (RFU) admitted that it was unable to pay Capello, and that it hadn’t paid him since June. It’s a story that would fill any human heart with palpable sadness. Since the summer, Capello has probably been living off of mayonnaise sandwiches, old fish, and dried hope. However, there may be some fresh hope around the corner.
RFU president Nikolai Tolstykh said that “The U” — my official nickname for the RFU — would find an “official source” to “help the RFU fulfill its obligations to Capello.” It’s unclear whether Crimea qualifies as an official source or if Russia will be invading any nations this week, but for Capello, at face value, this seems like a step in the right direction. Capello may finally be able to replenish his collection of sweater vests and endangered species-rimmed glasses.
Yet the timing of “The U’s” statement is curious, considering Russia’s currency is going through an “it’s complicated” phase. Is it a coincidence that “The U” is looking to fulfill its obligations to Capello now that the rouble’s value is plummeting to relegation depths? We’ll never know for sure, but perhaps we should approach the idea of “The U” making amends with skepticism. I mean, would you be surprised if Russia tanked its entire economy just to renegotiate a better deal with Capello? No, you wouldn’t be.
Watch this space. Watch to see if Capello’s payment will be paid in his freedom.
There’s a lesson here: Always ask for your salary up front, in gold bars or Picasso paintings, because some things, like extravagant salaries, are sometimes too good to be true.