An axiom exists in the world of footie. I can’t remember the way it goes, but I know it ends with …and the Germans always win.
You can apply a similar corollary to the world of Mexican futbol, just add …and Televisa always gets its way.
They definitely got their way this week, and then some.
For those who don't know, Televisa is the Mexican media Giant and (not so invisible) invisible hand that rules Mexican futbol.
After Mexico failed to qualify for the Olympics, and Televisa saw their ad revenue disappear with every sitter missed that night in Carson two years ago, it looked like Jorge Vergara, the mercurial Chivas owner, had assumed control of the national team and its future. I wondered if his power play catapulted him to the top of the FMF food chain.
His first move was to sack Hugo Sanchez and bring in SGE. With three votes, Televisa waited until everyone else had cast before doing so themselves.
The Swede only lasted 8 months, and had left Mexico in a deep hole in WCQ.
It was Pachuca’s turn. Their owner, Jesus Martinez, had Mexican President Felipe Calderon, write Javier Aguirre, requesting a return to the Tri.
Clearly embarrassed by the Ericksson fiasco, Vergara somehow still had some influence on the decision making. He kept his seat on the National Team Committee, and was able to put one of his guys, Nestor de la Torre, as the National Team Director.
It was always going to be an uneasy relationship, and it was strained further when de la Torre refused to grant Televisa even more access than they already had. After the World Cup, rumors were flying that Televisa wanted de la Torre out. “I am no one’s puppet.” De la Torre said.
And then there was the party. Which the press was more than happy to exploit.
De la Torre fined some players, and suspended others after the players had a much publicized get together after a friendly in Monterrey.
He applied the rule of law. He says players broke rules, so they must face consequences. The players, though, would have preferred the matter handled internally.
How many times have we heard teams release statements that players have been fined or suspended for breaking unspecified team rules and the matter will be handled internally? No problem, we move on.
Not Nestor. He called a press conference, read the names of the guilty parties and the rules that were said to have been violated. The press ate it up, adding to the narrative that the players were good for nothings that would rather rock out with their co%#s out than play for Mexico.
The players were furious. They asked not to be called up until their were changes made at the institutional level in a letter that they requested not to be released to the press (which of course it was, almost as soon as it was received). The sponsors were even more furious. They shelled out a lot of cash so that their branding would be associated with Chicharito, Rafa, Ochoa, and the like.
FMF didn’t cave to players, but the sponsors? Well….
Publicly, Femexfut was behind de la Torre and his decisions 100%. But let us not forget that the top two names on the Femexfut org. chart were lifelong Televisa employees. They stood by as Nestor continued this very public circus act. They even provided the rope for the Flying Nestor number. All he had to do was hang himself.
The players took a firm position against Nestor. The fallout from the party, it turns out, was the culmination, not the beginning of the bad blood between the two. The FMF admitted to the players that mistakes were made and apologized. The players were always fine with sanctions, but demanded a public apology from Nestor. He refused, and would rather resign. Which is what he did.
It all makes me wonder if Televisa knew this would happen. Someone in FMF had to know that the players had reserved one of the halls at the Monterrey hotel. They also had to know that de la Torre would respond to the press, like he did during the whole Bobadilla thing before the World Cup. So they were able to get rid of a guy they didn’t want without getting their hands dirty.
Now televise can install another yes man at the post. And the news gets better for them because their biggest headache in Tri decision making has removed himself from the process. Jorge Vergara, believing that the FMF turned their back on Nestor, stepped down from his position on the National team committee. It is a shame. Vergara seems to have to have as more of a sporting interest than just an economic one.
So now what? Much, much more of the same. A coach will be named next week. 4 year projects are nice to talk about, but a Mexico coach’s success will depend not on what he does on the field, but what he can deliver to the bottom line. Televisa's bottom line.
And for better or worse, Televisa will get their way.