Football, in addition to being the king of sports, an unparalleled field of emotions and passions, is also power and business. Power of men over women, as has been revealed in Spain this past week after Luis Rubiales, the president of the RFEF, was caught red-handed, applying himself disheveled to his macho practices. But not only him, but also his management structures over partners and followers, whose feelings they use to roam free.
From some elites to strengthen their social influence. Of its great stars, turned into capricious and spoiled children, who tyrannize followers/consumers and their long-suffering younger brothers in lower categories. So unaccustomed to social scrutiny that in a crisis like the current one they do not feel challenged to speak out. They are above good and evil. The world is alien to them.
Also economic power, money in your pocket, of course. The baseball business is huge and its reach is global. It runs through an endless chain that goes from the newborn to the one they make a member at birth and reaches the headquarters of the large multinationals that want to associate their brands with those moments in which hundreds of millions have their hearts more open. Sponsors who have resisted without flinching a long year of protest by the players of the Spanish soccer team against their coach and the structures of the federation. Now they have started to wake up.
Meanwhile, they have provided a manna that has allowed the federative leaders to buy wills, silence discrepancies and above all choose the most related and servile to accompany them in the institutions. Without territorial distinctions, the gene knows no limits: from Extremadura, chaired by Rubiales' faithful squire and interim substitute for him, Pedro Rocha, to the Catalan and also stalwart of the stalker, Joan Soteras.
A useful power also to put pressure on politicians, who are sensitive to running into characters capable of manipulating the feelings of their hundreds of thousands of fans, for which they prefer to weave complicity with the provosts of the ball rather than tell them the truth or get their hands on them.
Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian tycoon who died a few months ago, was adept at these issues, not the precursor since it was an old practice, and he made the most of soccer as a political lever. He orchestrated the desires of his Milan, to win the adoration of the masses and make the leap into politics.
Everything together makes up an area, a family apart from the rest of society, governed by its own rules, a specific ethical code, rules that would be unacceptable in any other social area but are not questioned in football. In the past, during the time when the clubs were owned by the members and the elections were almost always won by large local builders, the kings of black money and official and municipal corruption, there was talk of the peculiar football democracy.
The reign of a few chosen ones who combined the influence of their success in business, the unspeakable use of money to buy or twist wills, the advice of technicians and jurists seasoned in the many different ways of rigging accounts, contracts and regulations, and a populism that did not go beyond the scope of local costumbrismo.
Now it becomes clear again that this peculiarity continues to be maintained, in the few clubs that still maintain the condition of being owned by their partners and especially in the governing institutional structures of soccer.
The opacity in the management continues: the distribution of bulky commissions without control; the lack of respect for the slightest rules of incompatibility with private businesses or those of close people; the indiscriminate hiring of relatives, friends and acquaintances without previous experience or proven knowledge. Always counting on the attention of the potential interested party, the member or fan, will always continue to pay attention exclusively to the ball and the TV.
This explains why at this point, a character like Rubiales, to whom all kinds of shady activities have been attributed and who had to return money improperly collected to the federation, has been able to exit through the triumphal arch of the federative assembly last Friday .
For the complicity of his federative colleagues. Many of them no doubt understood him in these troubled times. Who doesn't have something that he couldn't explain in public either? Some commissions in the awarding of a contract, a negotiation with a supplier. A conflict of interest or influence peddling. It is not a good excuse to rely on the fact that defending Rubiales was the barrier to contain Javier Tebas, the president of the professional soccer league, and prevent him from taking total control. The clash between the two has never been a fight of good guys against bad guys but of rivals to get a bigger part of the pie.
Like any great power with such a tasty business on its hands, it resists external intervention, a change in the model and the necessary reforms to make it more transparent, fair and responsible. And politicians don't get stubborn as long as the damage doesn't get worse; like now. The bill always arrives. And the later, the worse, the more bulging.
It can be presumed that many of those who now carry a high standard in football will be court meat tomorrow. But for the victims, the whole of society, not just members and fans, it will be too late. The players of the Spanish team have the great honor, certainly painful, of having opened the Pandora's box of rot. Now it is necessary to resist that the clean is limited to getting off the toxic Rubiales. You have to get your hands on the football business.