VLL watched a few games this weekend but there was still one theme that was in the back of our mind and no amount of goals was going to distract us. It was a faint echo that started to become a loud scream. Once again La Liga is making headlines on the world stage and not because Real Madrid and Barca were both knocked out of the Champions League. It seems that once again that corruption has raised it beady little head and while it has been around for years, it seems that finally someone wants to do something about it, although that someone is Javier Tebas, so just how much he will do remains to be seen.
Ever since the day when the likes of Jesús Gil was allowed get involved in football, La Liga has had the foul stench of corruption hanging over it like a wasp circling a sweet cake. Since 1992, when clubs became Sports Limited Companies, SAD, and supporters lost their say, meetings of La Liga Presidents have resembled something out of The Sopranos. The Atlético case is well-known but nothing was ever done to make sure nothing like it never happened again. Now, with unemployment hitting well over 6 million, those living in Spain have had enough of football clubs believing that they are above the law. Tax debts have been published and whilst before clubs ignored threats from Hacienda, now they are sorting things out and evidence of this is the fact that almost €80m of owed tax revenue was finally paid to the Revenue last year. There is still over €600m overdue but this was one step in the right direction but before La Liga chiefs could celebrate, the stench returned.
The ‘maletines’ is a term used for when one team pays another team to win their match. Some say it is a myth but Michael Laudrup and various others say that it those happen. A team that has nothing to play for may be tempted to play a weaker side against another team that are fighting for the title. The other party involved in the league duel may pay the other sidea bonus should they field a strong side and win. The view in La Liga was that there was nothing wrong as you are paying a team to do their best but a few weeks ago Javier Tebas who will soon be La Liga President confirmed that he knew of a few incidents where players were paid to do the opposite. Of course the obvious answer was: show me the proof! Tebas hasn’t got any physical proof but he has promised to find it. Should he do it, it could change La Liga as we know it. But would that necessarily be a bad thing?
Last week, a court sentenced Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes to one year in prison. The trail and sentence were in regards to doping in cycling but Fuentes says that he treated lots of other athletes, including footballers. There were bags of blood that Fuentes had in his possession that had no names. It was rumoured that some these bags of blood were from footballers. Now they will be destroyed, even though Fuentes says he knows exactly who they belong to. A former Real Sociedad President admitted that the club had worked with the disgraced doctor years ago. Arsene Wenger has admitted that some players he has signed from La Liga had participated in doping and the response of the league: Do nothing! Another dark day for Spanish sport. Whilst it is true that investigating doping in football may be opening a Pandora’s box, it also gives Spain a chance for a fresh start. If they let thing lie, there will always be rumour and snide comments but it seems that this is a price that the powers-that-be are content to pay.
After the Fuentes ruling another story emerged. Deportivo de la Coruña are enjoying a fine run of form lately and it seems to have raised a few eyebrows and suspicions. Against Levante, they won 4-0 and it has now been announced that La Liga chiefs are looking into the tie. Levante has expressed their outrage and also declared their innocence. It seems that Tebas wasn’t lying after all, he is, for the moment, determined to weed out the scum in football. How did the LFP suddenly become interested though?
Before this tie the most famous Levante video was Ballesteros outrunning Ronaldo. That has now been replaced by a Barkero free kick which has been shown and shown on TV time after time as possible evidence of Levante not trying. It was words from the player that raised suspicion when he said his team mates had a drop in work rate during half time of the Depor game. These comments raised a red flag and although the players had apologised and explained himself better, a certain amount of damage has been done. Now other games are to be investigated.
Before this type of thing would have been swept under the rug but not this time. Spaniards are tired of the their Domestic League consistently being dragged through the mud and having its name sullied. Now they want answers and Tebas is the name that must deliver them. If he investigates and finds nothing, people will suggest a cover up but should he be the man who finds something and starts to delve deeper into the shady undergoing transactions that happen in La Liga, he could destroy a national treasure and become the most hated man, although he is almost that anyway, in Spain. Is he willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good? Only time will tell.