Forza Futbol

A Better Lens at Spanish Football

The Spanish Player’s Union (AFE) recently announced that there were 300 unpaid players, the majority in Second division and that if nothing is going to change, a strike would be eminent the first week of the 2011-12 season.

The Spanish economy is not getting any better. Unemployment is at an all time high at 20%. The Euro continues to lose buying power. Spanish club indebtedness is at an all time high. Meanwhile, a potential labor strike is looming once again because teams are not paying their players timely, or at all.

Rumors continue to persist that a mass exodus of Spanish players abroad will occur this summer. Spaniards are quite versatile and very adaptable on the pitch as well as to other cultures. Players from all levels, from the stars to journeymen to canteranos and veterans are playing in England (Jose Enrique), Greece (David Fuster), Ukraine, Romania, Hong Kong, Turkey (Guiza) and the Middle East (Yeste). More are expected in Germany (Jurado), France (Azpilicueta), Italy (Victor Ruiz), Portugal (Javi Garcia), Holland, and Russia. Hey, even Sergio Koke, Malaga canterano, fresh from Aris in Greece, and still only 27, is playing in the MLS at Houston Dynamo!

But Spain are the World Champions, with the two biggest and best club teams in the world! Spain has arguably the best youth and coaching development in Europe. How could this happen?

Well, both players and coaches want a guaranteed paycheck and are attracted to the quality of life abroad. Many countries or cultures respect the privacy of players and coaches much more than in Spain, where the daily paper is big business. Some argue that cheaper South Americans and African players are squeezing out the journeymen. Whereas big name foreigners are also squeezing out the marquee players from the top teams in Spain. This is especially the case when only Real Madrid and Barcelona can afford you – see David Silva. More Spanish and ex La Liga coaches are moving abroad and making it easier to move. Ernesto Valverde and Manolo Jimenez are working in Greece, while Juande Ramos is plying his trade in the Ukraine. Bottom line with such a short sporting life, it makes career and family sense.

The perfect case in point is Schalke in the Bundesliga where you have the star veteran, Raul, journeyman, Jurado, and canterano from a smaller club who had little chance of 1st team Primera football, Sergio Escudero. I totally expect to see more and more transfers abroad this summer. But it just doesn’t sit right with me. Frankly I am torn. Global experience is good for the game, coaches and players. But what ever happened to the best league in the world? Shouldn’t the best league retain and promote their own players?

What do you think? Will this happen? Is this good or bad for Spanish football? I want to hear from you.

Elisa On May - 2 - 2011

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