We all like to think we despise injustice, but realistically only a select few will go out of their way to face up to it. Those that do, and persevere, will undoubtedly encounter all manner of obstacles in bringing the truth out into the open. The fight to reveal the ‘other side of the story’ can be that much harder if one has to endure a continuing barrage of misinformation from perceived “credible” sources, intent on keeping the general population in the dark.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter:
A great injustice has been committed against Club Deportivo Guadalajara, a small football club from the provincial capital bearing the same name and located just 55 kilometres east of Madrid, who until July 31 2013 were a team that had won the right to remain in the second tier of Spanish football, also known as the “Liga Adelante”, yet were relegated at the end of the season.
What did Guadalajara do? What crime could have they possibly committed that would warrant such a harsh punishment?
CD Guadalajara committed the crime of successfully raising just under €3 million in extra capital during the summer of 2012; they committed the crime of being a well-run Club that paid everyone in full and in a timely manner; and lastly, they committed the crime for being one of the most economically-sound clubs in Spain, a rarity these days.
The story is simple in principle but complex in its execution due to the many strategies deployed by the LFP, the ‘Liga de Fútbol Profesional’, which is the independent, private governing body of professional football in Spain for both the Liga BBVA (Division 1) and Liga Adelante (Division 2).
In a nutshell, the issue in contention relates to CD Guadalajara’s capital increase campaign during June and July of 2012, particularly alleging the Club President, German Retuerta, committed a series of fraudulent offences in relation to depositing and withdrawing these funds.
Because of this alleged, “very serious” misconduct, the LFP opens administrative disciplinary proceedings against CD Guadalajara on January 21 despite the President’s offer to assist them with their enquiries. Ten days later a criminal lawsuit is filed against German Retuerta without his knowledge at the time.
Note the words “alleging / alleged” in the last two paragraphs. At this stage (end of January 2013) the LFP have no documented proof of any wrongdoing at CD Guadalajara, yet embark on what can only be described as a monumental miscalculation as they would find out a few months later.
The man at the centre of this scandal, but by no means the only one involved, is Second Vice-President of the LFP, Javier Tebas. It is interesting to note that he was contracted by CD Guadalajara as ‘Club Advisor’ on July 4 2012, to assist the newly promoted Club with all matters in relation to operating in the new professional football environment. His tenure was due to last a couple of years, but five months in, he unilaterally rescinds the contract, quietly leaving the Club in December 2012.
A few months later, on February 15 2013, Javier Tebas announces his candidature for President of the LFP, with elections scheduled for April 27…
Let’s pause and use the benefit of hindsight for a moment. These sequences of events begin to reveal what Mr Tebas was up to: He was carefully positioning his chess pieces in anticipation of delivering the perfect ‘check-mate’, using CD Guadalajara as a scapegoat.
Why them and what for?
CD Guadalajara was an easy target: A small, humble club located in a city of just 85,000 inhabitants and relative newcomer to the Liga Adelante. Any backlash would be minimal and easily containable (compared with that emanating from a larger Club).
This ‘alleged’ irregularity would create the ideal scenario to make his mark and stamp out any bad practice in the sport and in the process, gain one of the top jobs in Spanish football.
Then, two days later, the bombshell:
The news of the lawsuit is leaked by the LFP to influential national radio station COPE on February 17. The tone in which the news was communicated and the manner in which it was delivered heavily inferred that an infringement had actually taken place at CD Guadalajara when in fact it hadn’t.
To make matters even more confusing, radio host Paco González and subsequently Javier Tebas, in an interview three days later, incorrectly state the offence was in relation to “irregularities in Guadalajara’s conversion into a Public Limited Sports Company (Sociedad Anónima Deportiva) during the summer of 2012”, an impossibility, given the fact the Club transitioned to PLSC status 14 years prior. Despite the inaccuracy, a vast majority of the general population are misled into believing this bad press and do not probe further.
Days later, CD Guadalajara responds to the allegations stating they have sufficient documented evidence to prove their innocence and in the ensuing weeks appoint a team of four lawyers to commence a legal defence against both the criminal lawsuit and the administrative disciplinary proceedings (legally, in that order).
In March and most likely at the request of the LFP, the National Sports Council (Consejo Superior de Deportes) conduct a thorough five week audit of CD Guadalajara’s books and find no evidence of any wrongdoing by Mr Retuerta or anyone else at the Club. Quite the contrary, they were able to fully reconcile Guadalajara’s financial transactions, verifying that the €3 million raised had indeed been used to pay all manner of creditors including players, the manager, coaching staff, social security and building work carried out on the Pedro Escartín stadium.
These findings contradict the initial allegations and the subsequent actions the LFP took as the audit report and supporting official documentation proved CD Guadalajara to be fair and transparent in their financial dealings, paying all parties “in full, and in a timely manner”.
The surprising revelation of what should have technically been CD Guadalajara’s acquittal, reaches the LFP on April 9, who, despite this official evidence, decide not to apologise and instead, stick to their original story and press on with the charges.
What would motivate the LFP to adopt this stance, when overwhelming evidence from an official audit conducted by a government organisation confirmed otherwise?
The answer lays in the fact the LFP elections, scheduled for April 27, were only 2½ weeks away.
The other key issue around this time was CD Guadalajara’s position in the table, hovering precariously above the relegation places.
Let’s look at the situation from the LFP’s viewpoint:
- CD Guadalajara is a small, humble Club with limited social mass and limited support from the national press;
- The Spanish media, including TV, radio, printed and digital press would side with the LFP, disseminating whatever version of events were fed to them.
- On April 9, CD Guadalajara was in 16th position, only a few points above the relegation places and with the threat of administrative relegation looming, it was almost certain the morale of the players and staff would plummet, affecting future results in the process.
- The relegation of CD Guadalajara due to adverse results on (and off) the playing field was by far the LFP’s preferred choice. In order to accomplish this, all the LFP had to do was increase the pressure on a number of fronts and everything would fall into place, laying the matter to rest and letting them off the hook.
Any formal apology at this stage would have signified a major embarrassment to the LFP, ‘tarnishing’ their reputation and most likely costing Javier Tebas the opportunity of becoming the next LFP President.
Therefore, with the odds heavily stacked in the LFP’s favour, the risk of continuing with the original story and pressing on with the charges was well worth taking. This decision also cleared the way for a trouble-free presidential election, which saw Javier Tebas confirmed as new leader of the LFP having secured 32 of the 42 official votes.
The complexity of this already multidimensional case was underpinned by additional LFP tactics over four months, between April and July 2013, designed exclusively to portray CD Guadalajara as the offending party in a number of influential circles and ultimately fulfil their main objective of relegating the Club by whatever means possible. These included:
- Sanctions – A financial sanction initially set at €180,000 on April 15 by the LFP Social Discipline Committee and later reduced on appeal to €90,000 on May 27.
- Threat of points deduction – Towards the end of the 2012/13 season, both UD Las Palmas (April 2) and Racing Santander (May 29) filed complaints alleging the Club had fielded ineligible players. Interestingly, Guadalajara had gained 4 points (a win and a draw respectively) in these encounters which were crucial to securing their survival. Both complaints were eventually dismissed, however the handling of both matters bore all the hallmarks of a well-directed destabilising campaign by the LFP.
- Biased press releases – Both directly through the LFP website and indirectly through multiple mainstream media outlets, to reinforce the notion that CD Guadalajara were guilty of ‘financial irregularities’, justifying that the punishment handed to the Club fitted the crime. On June 4 the LFP went as far as to state that ‘Guadalajara were already relegated’, a statement made well before the Club had exhausted any legal options through the court system.
- Delaying tactics – The LFP enabled several appeal submissions and review periods to run their full course prior to “assessing” and advising CD Guadalajara of their (predictable) rejection, with the sole purpose of delaying the commencement of judicial court proceedings until after the summer recess.
Despite these LFP strategies, on July 30, two days prior to the summer recess, the Club managed to lodge an urgent request for the granting of the injunctive relief, or ‘concesión de medidas cautelares’, a legal measure that would preserve their present Liga Adelante status before the matter went to a full Court hearing.
However, the following day and after four hours studying the case, the judge decreed the adjournment of the matter until September 2 – 25 when the courts reconvene, stating it was ‘neither urgent, nor the damages irreparable’. Up until this point, CD Guadalajara were a legitimate Liga Adelante club, however this action ultimately forced their relegation to the 2aB division (the third tier of Spanish football) as the new Liga Adelante season commenced mid-August.
This action also forced CD Guadalajara to undergo a total restructure, having to release key players, their manager and some admin staff. In addition, many season ticket holders decided not to renew their memberships.
CD Guadalajara is one of the very few teams in professional football to have ended the season debt-free and operating in surplus. The president, his family and the City of Guadalajara have been adversely affected for an alleged irregularity that never existed. Relegated and accused of fraud with no proof to substantiate that claim.
On a final note, it is worth highlighting that Spanish law dictates that when two charges are pending against the same entity or person, the lesser charge (administrative disciplinary proceedings / relegation) has to be temporarily suspended in order to first address the more serious charge (criminal lawsuit). This didn’t happen, as the LFP were solely intent on pursuing the lesser charge in order to cover up the falseness of their allegations, hence making sure their own objectives were met rather than complying with the processes set by the Spanish judicial system.
The LFP were convinced CD Guadalajara would succumb to the persistent dark cloud they had created for the Club. However, despite the LFP’s concerted efforts to misinform, confuse, undermine and demoralise, the Club remained focused on the task at hand and secured their Liga Adelante survival with two games to spare.
This feat was nothing short of a miracle
Whilst this article is an attempt to show the world the other side of the story, it also serves as tribute to the maturity, professionalism and fighting spirit displayed week in and week out by 21 young men, their manager, the loyal fans, Club directors and staff, but above all, by the Retuerta family, whose self-belief, strength and persistence through adversity has united a City and its province giving them an enduring sense of pride in their football team, despite the pain and suffering caused by the LFP.
What happens now?
To this very day and despite the overwhelming evidence that the Club operated in full compliance with the laws governing capital increase and financial accountability, the LFP have yet to communicate to anyone what the alleged irregularity is. Their allegation and the media circus that has supported it can only be described as farcical, baseless and essentially flawed.
What can I do?
It’s time for people to hold these organisations accountable to their actions. Today it is CD Guadalajara, but tomorrow your own club could very well be facing a similar, unjust situation.
Take the plunge and make a difference today by supporting the Club in bringing this injustice to the attention of influential ‘players’ in European and World football.
By using Social Media and sharing the following links with your friends / followers:
Check out and share the YouTube documentary “A Relegation Theory” (English-subtitles).
Share this article!
Share the bilingual Time Line (image also on Pinterest) which illustrates the most important events that took place from January to July 2013. Save them to your PC, post them on your next Facebook status or Tweet.
If you want to join the conversation on Twitter we are using the #JusticiaParaElGuadalajara hashtag.
If you’d like to leave a message of support on the “Justicia Para El Guadalajara” web page …we’d love to hear from you! This can be done by going to the following link: http://www.justiciaparaelguadalajara.com/?page_id=41
We are very appreciative of your efforts in helping us bring this injustice out into the open.
Nick & Justicia Para El Guadalajara