La Liga’s New Reality To Bring Optimism, Discomfort

La-Liga-Logo
File: La Liga logo

 

La Liga president Javier Tebas said Spanish football’s return will allow people to feel a sense of normality again but it may also serve as a reminder of an uncomfortable new reality.

Spain’s top division is set to restart on June 11 and to be completed on July 19, yet the expectation is players will be subjected to safety protocol for several months and stadiums will not be full again until next year.

In the short-term at least, its reemergence could offer some comfort. “There is no doubt the resumption of football will contribute to a general sense of relief among certain groups of people, who have been struggling with the pandemic,” David Moscoso, a specialist in sports sociology, told AFP.

“The return of football is a sign that society is progressing to the new normal,” agreed Tebas earlier this month, adding “it will restore a part of life that people in Spain know and love.”

Spain has managed to bring the number of infections under control in recent weeks, with the government reporting no deaths from coronavirus on Monday for the first time since the beginning of March.

But with more than 27,000 confirmed fatalities, the country has been one of the worst-hit in the world and it is no surprise the approach to football’s return has been cautious and the attitude of some fearful.

READ ALSO: WHO Warns Of Pressure On Latin American Health Systems

“It is possible that by losing the passion and intensity, which is really the essence of football, it will also lose that emotional centre that is the hook for so many people,” said psychologist Adelaida Navaridas.

Many are adamant that, without fans, the campaign should not resume at all.

“We understand we cannot go to the stadium due to the risk of infection,” said Joseba Combarro, president of the Eskozia La Brava, the most significant supporters’ club at Eibar, whose squad members have expressed reservations about playing too soon.

“But the players share the same risk as the fans, the risk is for everyone. The league should be suspended.”

– ‘Social heart’ –

It is not only the atmosphere inside stadiums that will be lost.

“The social heart of football comes from people getting ready for the game with friends, with family, and then staying together afterwards. All that is broken,” adds Guillermo Fouce, a professor of psychology at Madrid’s Complutense University.

“But between having it back at 100 per cent or nothing at all is something in between that helps us to adapt. I think it’s still better to move closer to what was normal before.”

La Liga have been eager to point to the economic benefits too, for people’s jobs and livelihoods.

“Football’s return means the revival of a very relevant economic sector,” said Tebas.

“It contributes 1.37 per cent of GDP and generates 185,000 jobs at a time when the economic situation is already the main concern.”

“It is the primary service export industry in our country,” adds Moscoso. “It’s economic role is self-evident.”

Television companies like Movistar, the biggest broadcaster of games in Spain, have also been promoting the idea that football’s revival amounts to progress.

Every Sunday night this month, Movistar has hosted a programme called “Volver Es Ganar”, “To Return is To Win”, a slogan that has also been carried by players and clubs alike.

First and foremost, the game is coming back because of its own financial needs, with Tebas admitting clubs stood to lose around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) if the season was cancelled.

Fans will have football again but, for a while at least, in a very different way to before.

“Perhaps we have to consider that our new normal is going to be different,” Fouce said. “That nothing is going to be exactly the same as before.”

AFP

Spanish Football Federation Offers Clubs Loans To Pay Bills

(File) View taken on on September 16, 2017 of the new Wanda Metropolitano stadium before the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs Malaga CF in Madrid.  AFP PHOTO / OSCAR DEL POZO.

 

Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales on Wednesday announced lines of credit for lower-level clubs in difficulty because of the coronavirus pandemic and repeated that he hoped the season could be completed.

He also told an online press conference he was willing to talk to La Liga, which runs the top two divisions, about helping its clubs.

Rubiales said that semi-professional and non-professional clubs in men’s and women’s outdoor and indoor football “will have a line of credit that will reach up to four million euros ($4.3 million) depending on their wage bills”.

He said the loans would be interest free and could be repaid over two years.

Some clubs are considering introducing part-time working to compensate for lack of income.

Rubiales said he hoped that this aid would help prevent such drastic action.

“We’re talking about four million for modest levels of football, but there’s also professional football and we want to reach out to it,” said Rubiales.

“If La Liga wants to talk, it’s time to do the maths,” he said. “We have worked on a line of financing of 500 million euros.”

He said the RFEF was ready “to sit down and look for financing for clubs that are going to have a problem”.

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“(If the season) does not end on June 30, which is more probable, there are going to be clubs that do not receive 100 percent of the money from television,” he added.

He said he could make 500 million available “for first and second division clubs, who need 15, 20 million euros now”.

Rubiales reiterated that competition will resume “when it is possible”, but he said he wanted to “give clubs fighting relegation the chance to save themselves, and those in a position to win promotion the chance to earn it”.

AFP

Barcelona Beat Juventus To Win 5th Champions League Title

BarcelonaSpanish giants, Barcelona have emerged Champions of Europe after beating Italian greats, Juventus 3-1 in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final on Saturday night.

Goals by Rakitic and Suarez in both halves of the fierce battle seemed to have ensured that Morata’s equalizer would amount to nothing for Juventus before Neymar sealed victory with the final kick of the game.

Rakitic provided Barca with a great start with his side footed goal in the 4th minute benefiting from great enterprising moves by Jordi Alba, Neymar and Iniesta who would claim the assist as the Juve defence was pulled to pieces.

On the 55th minute, Morata, would not miss the chance for an equalizer with a rebound off a well taken shot by Tevez which ter Stegen got down well to parry brilliantly.

Buffon had also gotten down to save brilliantly from a Messi shot, but the ball only broke into the middle for Suarez, who batters a sidefoot into the unguarded net to make it 2-1

Having already won the La Liga and the King’s Cup trophies, Barcelona have now equalled their treble success of 2009.

Before the game, both teams had the chance of completing a domestic and European treble this season, with both clubs having already claimed their respective league titles and main national cup competitions.

Two points separated first and second in La Liga this campaign, with Barca taking the crown from fierce rivals Real Madrid courtesy of a 1-0 win over 2013-14 champions Atletico Madrid in the penultimate game of the season.

They followed this up with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp in the Copa Del Rey final to leave the Catalan club, in the words of defender Gerard Pique, “90 minutes away from perfection”.

Juventus led Serie A from the fourth round of fixtures onward and sealed their fourth straight league title and 31st Scudetto with four games to play before beating Lazio 2-1 after extra time to win the Coppa Italia.

The last meeting in the knockout stage between both teams came in 2003, when Juventus won 3-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals en route to the final, where they lost to Milan.

Champions League Final: Juventus, Barcelona Arrive In Berlin

Champions LeagueItalian side, Juventus and Spanish giants, Barcelona have arrived in Berlin, the site of Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final.

Hordes of journalists and cheering fans gathered outside the Hotel Regent in the city centre to greet the Juventus players as they stepped off their coach before entering the hotel.

Dressed in suits, most of the players were also wearing dark sunglasses, but goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and forward Carlos Tevez waved to the crowd as they passed.

Juve held a training session in the afternoon, as they honed their skills in the hope of thwarting Barca’s formidable attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez.

Barcelona have arrived in berlin,

Following the two-and-a-half-hour flight, Barcelona’s plane landed at Berlin Schönefeld Airport for the encounter.

Luis Enrique’s side are seen by many as overwhelming favourites in the Champions League final.

With the La Liga and the King’s Cup trophies in the bag, victory in the Champions League final would see Barca equal their treble success of 2009.

Ahead of the final, Lionel Messi had said in an interview with UEFA that a tough task awaits Barcelona against Juventus in the final.

“We know we are up against really tough opponents, a powerful side, they are a great club and its a final, anything can happen but we’re prepared,” the Argentine forward said.

Messi Weighs Barcelona’s Champions League Final Chances Against Juventus

MessiLeo Messi is ready for the Champions League final but he is well aware that a tough task awaits Barcelona against Juventus in the final.

The Argentine forward said this much in an interview with UEFA which featured on the Barcelona website.

Messi helped Barcelona to win their second trophy of the season with a 3-1 victory against Athletico Bilbao on Saturday but he admitted Juventus are not Bilbao.

“Its a Champions League final, we’ve had to work very hard and suffer a lot to get here to the final but we now know that its not going to be easy because we have the possibility to be the champions of Europe again and everybody wants that.

“We know we are up against really tough opponents, a powerful side, they are a great club and its a final, anything can happen but we’re prepared.”

Messi’s goals and his performances game after game would give Barcelona fans some hope that he can repeat the magic of scoring in the Champions League final again.

He shared fond memories of those nights against Manchester United in Rome in 2009 and at Wembley in 2011 against the same opponents, hoping he can relive them.

Messi also paid glowing tribute to outgoing Barcelona captain, Xavi Hernández, in the interview.

“Its been a great pleasure to play alongside him for so long to be able to enjoy his football not just in games but in trainings as well.

“He is the best player in the history of Spanish football,” Messi said.

Valdes Not Renewing Contract With Barcelona –Agent

Victor Valdes the number one goalkeeper of Spanish giants; Barcelona has decided not to renew his contract with the Camp Nou club as he has plans to move on to some other league.

This was confirmed last night by his representatives with the principal agent; Gines Carvajal releasing a statement to Spanish national news agency Efe after a meeting with the club management saying the player has decided not to renew his contract with Barcelona.

The statement read: “The agents of Victor Valdes have communicated to Barcelona in a meeting held this afternoon the irrevocable decision of the player to not renew his contract.”

Valdes who has spent his entire professional life with the Spanish giants has been in the web of speculation for a while after he said in an interview that he is considering a move this season, a statement the management of Barcelona claim wasn’t made by the goalkeeper.

Valdes’ move is probably well-timed with the recent employment of former Barcelona Coach Pep Guardiola by German Side Bayern Munich, because the goalkeeper might be the first and early target of the coach Pep Guardiola.

Valdes has been Barcelona’s number one throughout the last decade, winning a host of trophies and earning recognition with Spain, however Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas has remained the regular international goalkeeper.

Barca In Search Of Interim Manager After Vilanova Health Scare

Tito Vilanova the new Barcelona coach may have to step down for an interim manager to takeover after suffering a relapse of a tumour he had removed just last year.

The report came from Barcelona FC website that the search for an interim manager is on after Vilanova’s health scare.

Tito underwent surgery in November of last year to remove a growth on his parotid gland. The parotid gland is a salivary gland in humans. It is one of a pair, and the largest of the salivary glands.

The tumour is thought to have reappeared and now FC Barcelona is desperately searching for an interim manager to temporary replace the 44 year old Vilanova.

Barca is an amazing 9 points clear of their nearest rival who is Atletico Madrid who they beat by 4 goals to 1 last Sunday. Tito Vilanova took over from Pep Guardiola last summer and has had a terrific run this season so far.

Messi, Puyol and Xavi have all renewed their contracts and therefore will make Barca a force to be reckoned with in the future. Leo Messi has renewed until 2018 while Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez have both penned a deal until 2016.

FC Barcelona released a statement this morning announcing they had suspended all media activities for today but did not go into details. They also confirmed that a further announcement would be made later on today.

The statement read: “Barcelona announces that it is has suspended the press conference from president Sandro Rosell planned for midday. As well as that, the media Christmas lunch has been cancelled.

“Later today the club will issue a further release. Until that time we will not make any announcement about this matter.

“We regret any inconvenience this decision may cause.”

I will return if i get the right offer – Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona’s outgoing coach, has hinted he could be seduced into making an earlier-than-expected return from his sabbatical.

The former Spain international announced his intention to take a break from the game following the Catalan club’s Champions league semi-final defeat to Chelsea last month.

Guardiola will end his trophy-laden four-year spell at Barca after tonight’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.

But several clubs have since voiced an interest in acquiring Guardiola’s services, including newly-crowned European champions Chelsea.

Guardiola’s intention for a total break from football appeared to end any prospect of Chelsea luring him to Stamford Bridge, but the Spaniard hinted he could be lured back by the right club.

“I will be pleased to receive their calls, of course, but for the next months I have to charge my batteries, charge my mind,” said Guardiola.

“I’m going to rest and then I will wait and, when I will be ready, if one club wants me, if they seduce me, I will train again.”

Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, has long since been an admirer of Guardiola, while Liverpool will also have been alerted by the Spaniard’s commments as they seek a replacement for Kenny Dalglish.