LaLiga-federation mend fences in Spain


Spain World Cup Bid 2030 Image: CSD

Following efforts made by Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD), LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has joined hands to plan out a road map to return the domestic game amid the coronavirus curse which has caused large-scale disaster in Spain.

It took an intervention by the Government — and an eight-hour meeting — to help mend fences between the Spanish league and the Spanish soccer federation recently.

Spanish media called it the ‘Viana Pact’, as the deal was struck in a Government building called Palacio de Viana.

LaLiga is the men’s top professional football division of the Spanish football league system. The RFEF is the governing body of football in Spain. The National Sports Council (CSD) is a Spanish Government agency responsible for the promotion, planning and development of physical culture and sports activities of any kind.

Minerva Santana, Director of Innovation, LaLiga Spain, will be present at Coliseum Summit EUROPE to be held at Ascot Racecourse, UK, on September 2-3, 2020.

Funding agreements have been struck and a pledge made for the Government to throw its full weight behind a proposed joint bid with Portugal for the 2030 FIFA World Cup™.

The aforementioned developments come following a meeting between the three organizations. In a statement, the CSD said the return of professional football training will be subject to the “evolution” of the pandemic and decisions adopted by the Ministry of Health.

It added, “Therefore, it will occur as long as sanitary circumstances allow it and under strict health protocols.”

Earlier in April, LaLiga President Javier Tebas insisted that the top tier of Spanish football will finish its 2019-20 seasons this summer. LaLiga and the RFEF announced last month that the suspension of the professional game in the country would continue on an indefinite basis due to the havoc caused by the fatal respiratory disease.

LaLiga and the RFEF, and their respective Presidents, Tebas and Luis Rubiales, have crossed swords over multiple issues in recent months, but held a meeting recently that lasted more than eight hours with CSD President, Irene Lozano and the outcome was “constructive”.

The CSD informed that the meeting resulted in LaLiga and the RFEF committing to dedicate part of the earnings generated by football’s broadcast rights to a rescue fund for other sports bodies in Spain. The exact nature of this fund was not detailed, but LaLiga already allocates one per cent of its revenue from broadcast rights to the RFEF to support amateur football, and a further 1.5 percent to the CSD.

The CSD further informed that Tebas and Rubiales inked on a commitment to create a contingency fund of €10m ($10.8m), to which other entities such as the players’ union (AFE) will be invited to participate. This funding will be used to assist the most vulnerable athletes in the country.

The CSD added that all parties have also agreed to work in conjunction and in a coordinated manner abroad, to boost Spain’s reputation as a host for sports events.

The CSD added, “In this context, the Iberian candidacy for the 2030 World Cup takes on special importance, an event to which the Government will lend its full support, understanding that football is essential for the possibilities of our country.”

In June 2019, the RFEF and Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) confirmed that a process is on to potentially launch a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup. In a joint statement, the federations said that after several meetings they had elected to conduct an in-depth analysis of a bid for the national team tournament.

The weekend meeting was put together to help decide some of the actions required to help Spanish soccer during the coronavirus pandemic, including when teams will return to practice and how the league and the federation will help other sports financially. But the conversations also touched on other issues that will affect soccer going forward.

“The council wants to especially thank the league and the federation for their generosity and their will to reach agreements and to keep working together to shape the future of Spanish soccer after the pandemic,” the Government said.

As part of the pact, the Spanish League agreed to increase its contribution to non-professional sports and other federations, adding 50 million euros ($54.3 million) in each of the next four seasons.

The money will come mostly from television rights and will be handed to the sports council and the soccer federation. The League said that next year alone it will be contributing more than 113 million euros ($122 million).

“This effort by the clubs and LaLiga at a moment of economic uncertainty comes as an answer to the need for consensus and understanding that was required in the soccer sector,” the League said in a statement on Tuesday.

The League said all institutions have been seeking “the common good” for the sector that is greatly relevant to the country.

The sports council said the “global pact” included the creation of a “code of conduct” for soccer officials that could serve as a reference for other sports. It said the code would help “promote an honest and sincere dialogue, and facilitate a good relationship between the varied soccer institutions” in Spain.

The Government also said the parties agreed to “work together” to “contribute to Spain’s reputation” and to “strengthen (the country’s) image” abroad.

Spain’s players’ association, which recently also has had differences with the federation and the league, said it welcomed the peace pact.

The association said in a statement it was “surprised” for not being called into this weekend’s meeting, but it was grateful that the “controversies and sterile fights” between the institutions, “which did nothing to help Spanish soccer” in this difficult moment, finally stopped.

Earlier, the three soccer entities had been calling for unity but continued to be at loggerheads even after the coronavirus pandemic emerged, accusing each other and arguing over things such as players salaries, how to resume matches and financial support.

A case in point as regards their lack of unity, the bodies worked on three separate protocols for how teams have to resume practicing when allowed by health authorities.

The League and the federation used to previously squabble over petty things such as the rescheduling of a suspended “clásico” match between Real Madrid and Barcelona and the league’s bid to play a regular-season game in the United States.

The federation did not comment directly on the peace deal, referring to what was said by the Government.

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