Upping the Ante

New York Times, Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SPORTS TUESDAY: Upping the Ante, by Jere Longman

MANCHESTER, England

$330 million:  The price paid by a member of the royal family of the emirate Aba Dhabi for Manchester City in 2008.

“Manchester City’s wealthy owners have spent their way to the top of European soccer (football), but new financial rules could level the playing field.”

According to the article, UEFA, the governing body of European soccer has “grown concerned about perceived attempts by deep-pocketed owners to buy trophies and alarmed about inflationary spending on salaries and transfer fees, paid when a player is sold from one team to another,”  all this in a time of “continental economic crisis which hampers many teams…”, as well as “cumulative losses in European soccer which surpassed $3.5 billion in 2009 alone, according to news reports.”

In other words, the field seems tilted a bit to great wealth and UEFA would like to level the playing field, with new initiatives such as one called “Financial Fair Play,” in order “to rein in run away deficit spending and foster long-term stability.”

The first idiom in the headline, upping the ante, is derived from a gambling and poker term.  The ante is usually money, but could be chips or teams paid for with money as in this case.  The teams are betting against each other and the UEFA hopes to level the field by reining in some aspects of the antes.   A rider reins in a horse when he or she wants it to slow down.   (Please see http://www.sports idioms” for more explanation and sentences using these terms in the sports sense and in the derived idiomatic sense.)

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