What is football in the 21st century? A business. Soccer is a business. Except in exceptional cases, and in Spain there are, the clubs are directed by a board of directors, which has to give explanations to its shareholders. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic and Osasuna are part of the other football, a vintage football, one that will not return. And, even so, their presidents are equally demanding and have to give their explanations at the corresponding member meetings. There may be clubs that are half-managed, with 51 percent members and 49 percent shareholders, but if those shareholders decide to withdraw, the business is in danger. The management model must, therefore, be purely business. But when a club buys a player it takes a risk; I mean that if you invest more than one hundred million euros in a footballer it is because you think that he will return it to you, but sometimes that is not the case. For example, Madrid bought a top 5 player like Hazard and the deal was ruinous. When that happens to the club, when it makes a bad investment despite all the favorable forecasts, there is no compensation fund or anything similar, there is no one who comes to give you comfort, you are simply alone. But since the show has to go on, the club is forced to continue investing.
One of the main demands of the much-maligned Super League consisted precisely of attacking the nerve center of the issue: FIFA and UEFA are monopolies, obsolete institutions that benefit from the risk of others. In a scene of Pact with the Devil, Al Pacino criticizes God saying the following: “He lays out the rules and the board, but he is a real cheater: look but don’t touch, touch but don’t taste, taste but don’t taste. And while he takes you like puppets from one place to another another, what does He do? He bursts out laughing.” FIFA and its little sister UEFA have been doing the same thing for more than half a century, laughing at the clubs, who put players, stadiums and fans. You will not know a single fan of Infantino or Ceferin, they don’t have them, they don’t exist. Nor from Thebes. Here, in Spain, Tebas tells Real Madrid to look but don’t touch, to touch but don’t taste, to taste but don’t taste. And, meanwhile, and after at least poor management, he is disgraced by a football club whose president has to manage to remain competitive at the highest level and without the help of anyone, much less Tebas and the League.
Here the only question is the following: How long are the clubs going to allow FIFA and UEFA to continue ignoring them? Yesterday was Gavi’s: rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and involvement of the external meniscus. This means that, if all goes well, Gavi will not set foot on the pitch again for another nine months. And then what? Will it be the same player? Won’t he be? How will he come back from his injury? FIFA will pay Barça around twenty thousand euros per day until the player returns, but the sporting damage, and therefore the economic damage, has already been done. It is not entirely correct to refer to this situation as FIFA virus because there is no vaccine for this acellular microscopic infectious agent. There are vaccines for COVID 19, flu, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria or whooping cough… but not for FIFA. The vaccine against FIFA and UEFA is still being tested and is called Florentinezabut the clubs (like the players) are generally cowards and that fear of losing, altitude sickness, vertigo, make this toxin, this poison, become stronger, more and more resistant to the body that houses it and from which he feeds for free.
So, simplifying everything a little, in reality the solution against this infectious agent is in the power of the clubs themselves, the vaccine is none other than rebellion against a nineteenth-century system that endorses slavery in the 21st century. Gavi will be replaced by another player who will be worse, Barça will be affected, the spectacle will suffer, fewer spectators will probably go to the field but the remora will continue to take advantage of whatever sharks, whales or turtles are hunting. The whale just has to stop, stop moving and look straight into the remora’s eyes., as the clubs only have to stop and look face to face at UEFA. But they won’t, and they won’t do it out of fear. Enrique Cerezo summed it up the other day better than anyone: “We know that the best thing for football is the Super League but we are afraid of a sanction from UEFA.” The day everyone loses fear, the virus will end. Or, on the contrary, the day everyone is injured, football is over. One of two, either fear or football. Trick or Treating. There is no other vaccine.
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