Will the IPL test cricketers’ loyalty to their country, or will they prioritise club ahead of all else, as has often happened in American sports, where the franchisee model is more evolved? It’s too early to tell, but the threat, however slim, now looms.
Mike Chibnik, Professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Iowa and an avid baseball fan, told HT it wasn’t so much a question of club over country but rather a question of players going to the highest bidder and club owners wanting to protect their investments at any cost. "There is not necessarily an identification with a club, but yes, if a club spends a lot of money on a player, the owner would want to make sure that the player does not get injured playing elsewhere," he said.
"Yes, while there is more identification with the New York Yankees and not the US baseball team or the Chicago Bulls rather than the Olympic basketball team, it doesn’t mean it is club over country. I think it differs from sport to sport, but I don’t think players are more loyal to a club... They are like mercenaries, and will go to whoever pays them more," he said. Following are examples of the club v country dichotomy.
Club coaches around Europe constantly bicker about releasing players for international friendlies. Man U manager Alex Ferguson had reservations about Wayne Rooney playing the World Cup soon after an injury. Rooney, however, decided otherwise. Ronaldinho and Kaka also skipped the Copa Libertadores after gruelling club seasons.