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Friday July 12 2013
Is Tebas right for La Liga?

Garreth Nunn takes a look at LFP chief Javier Tebas and the challenges he faces in setting out to rid La Liga of corruption and make it more competitive.

‘Si el fútbol es de Javier Tebas... que anime su puta madre’, read a banner held up by the Rayo Vallecano Ultras. Everyone knew exactly who was to blame and everyone voiced their anger towards LFP Vice-President, Javier Tebas, the man responsible for senseless kick-off times, times that saw games begin one day and end on another. It may have been hoisted in Vallecas but everyone agreed on the message, ‘If football belongs to Javier Tebas…. Let his f*****g mother support it’. The good news for clubs is that Tebas is no longer the Vice-President, the bad news is that he got promoted. So who is the news LFP President?

The 51-year-old was born in Costa Rica and his first big job in Spanish football was at Sociedad Deportiva Huesca. A sports lawyer, he was responsible for guiding clubs through the infamous ‘Ley Concursal’ and was Vice-President of La Liga three times. He also headed the G30 organisation, which was set up by Primera and Segunda clubs to push for a more equal distribution of TV broadcasting rights. He claims that since 2010 it has been successful, but clubs like Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, so called ‘rebel clubs’, believe that his process is flawed and that it still sees Barcelona and Real Madrid keeping their big piece of the pie. He has vowed, as President, to clean up La Liga and he has a big task on his hands.

In a recent game involving Racing and Hercules, UEFA noticed some very irregular betting activity. It is being reviewed but this was not the first time last season that this had happened. Tebas has said that he knows of corrupted games and that players have even confirmed it to him. When asked earlier in the year about what issue needed to be addressed first, he responded: “The most important thing is the subject of match fixing. If there can be rotten games, it means the competition is not in order. From the League to the media we are not supporting this as it needs to be.”

This week Tebas participated in a web chat on El Confidencial and we got a real insight into his plans and opinions. The situation of Radamel Falcao has some in Spain wondering whether La Liga should forbid third party ownership like in the Premier League, but Costa Rican doesn’t share that view, believing that it just needs to be regulated better: “From what I know, nobody put a gun to Falcao to leave for Monaco, in fact what they did do was give a contract with lots of zeros.”

He was also asked about poor attendances and the prices fans are being asked to cough up: “It disturbs me a little but it is not the catastrophe  that I have heard about. The League has told them that prices and season ticket prices have to come down and some clubs have done that, but the crisis is affecting everyone and we will see how things go.” Many saw this as further evidence that he is out of touch with supporters.

Tebas talks the talk but he seems to falter when it comes to the walk. In the web chat he spoke out about corruption but avoided naming names and this is maybe because he has relationships with most of those accused of poorly running clubs. He refused to recognise the failure of Monday night games, saying that England also have games on Mondays. What he doesn’t acknowledge is that in the Premier League kick off times are announced months in advance, compared to Spain’s notice of 10 days. When talking about the greatness of the League he kept referring to the national team and failed to accept that the SAD system, which started in 1992, has failed. For some his comments were rife with ignorance.

Tebas isn’t one to back down from a fight. He has taken on Twitter users and club Presidents alike. He sticks to his guns, even if sometimes he has made the wrong decision, and that is were he might come undone. Only time will tell whether Tebas will actually put his words into action, but history suggests that his comments are nothing more than a good sound bite.

La Liga has many issues that it desperately needs to address and not many believe that the new President is that man to sort them out. Will he prove his doubters wrong? Only time will tell.

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