Sometimes, things for a Country can change faster in 20 days than in 20 years.
Just few days ago, Real Madrid won their third consecutive Champions League. When everything seemed perfect from the Real perspective, just few minutes after the end of the final, when hearts were still beating fast, the two biggest stars of the team – Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale – announced to the world that they were unhappy with their situation, and were looking for opportunities in different clubs.
Meanwhile, the Spanish opposition leader, socialist Pedro Sanchez, announced that he was going to force a no-confidence vote against current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, on the grounds of a corruption scandal.
it initially seemed that Rajoy could easily win the confidence test. Still, he was unexpectedly defeated, and just as everyone in the country and in Europe started to talk about Pedro Sánchez becoming the new Prime Minister of Spain, Real Madrid announced a joint press conference by coach Zinedine Zidane and president Florentino Pérez. No one could imagine that the Frenchman would resign by simply explaining that if he were to stay, the situation for the team could only get worse the next season.
Just a couple of days later, the new Minister of Sports Máxim Huerta paid visit to the Spanish National Team together with King Felipe VI, to wish them good luck before their flight to Russia. The picture below shows La Roja’s coach Julen Lopetegui, together with Huerta and Felipe VI. Well, five days later, two out of the three were sacked…
Media found out that Huerta was involved in a tax evasion case, and pushed him to resign only seven days after his appointment. On the other hand, Lopetegui signed a deal with Real Madrid to become their new manager, apparently with no negotiation between the Spanish Football Federation and Real Madrid.
Luis Rubiales, the newly-appointed president of the Spanish Federation (he won the elections just a few weeks ago) allegedly learned about the deal only five minutes before the public announcement done by Real Madrid, when he received a phone call from Lopetegui explaining him the situation. He was literally furious, and promptly took a flight from Moscow to Krasnodar, where Spain is based for the World Cup, to have a face-to-face meeting with him.
His decision was already taken, but captain Sergio Ramos, as well as “senators” Andrés Iniesta and David Silva, tried to convince him that the best way to start the tournament was with Julen Lopetegui still as head coach. But Rubiales didn’t listen, and just a few minutes later Lopetegui was packing, and on his way to the airport back to Madrid.
All these recent controversies have left the whole of Spain with their mouth open in disbelief, even more now that sporting director Fernando Hierro was hurriedly named interim manager to lead the team during upcoming World Cup.
Both sides, Real Madrid and the Spanish Football Federation, should have acted differently on the occasion, but Rubiales’ ego shouldn’t have won this battle either. At the end of the day, the ones who really risk paying the toll for this mess-up are football players and fans. After the recent events, Spain will no longer look as a potential candidate for the world title to many people.
I still believe that football should belong to players, and not to managers. But let’s see what happens in a little more than 24 hours, when Spain will face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in their World Cup 2018 debut…