Paco & Carlo’s war of words

One was a hard nut defender who never surrendered. The other was a graceful midfielder who dazzled and thrilled the world and, if one is inclined to believe, whose likes will never been seen again. Now they have retired, ironically both in 2006, and while on the pitch they had little in common, at least off it they enjoy employing similar attacking and attractive tactics.

That might be something that could be considered the base of a friendship, no? But, Zinidine Zidane and Paco Jemez are far from friends. In fact, Rayo’s Coach doesn’t even consider the French great a colleague and his comments before last weekend’s games ruffled more than a few feathers and raised Carlo Ancelotti’s eyebrow to a new level.

Jemez has never been one to mince his words. He has often said that his side are the poorest of La Liga and had to accept it, in relation to their budget, and last year said that his side were their own worst enemy, although those weren’t the exact words

Last weekend he saw Barcelona come to Vallecas and one would have thought that his focus would be solely on a side that he had faired particularly poorly against. Yet, when asked about Zidane, Coach of Real Madrid Castilla, Paco he hold his tongue and while normally whatever he says goes under the radar, he suddenly found himself making headlines.

“With respect to Zidane, I don't consider him a colleague because he doesn't have the necessary badges. When he takes them, then I will consider him a colleague,” said the former Spain international.

The news that Zidane hadn’t the necessary qualifications to sit on the bench and lead Castilla came out a few weeks ago. Real Madrid tried to play it down by saying that the former Ballon D’Or winner was in the process of getting his badges and that it was only a matter of time.

A few objections were raised but they were by those who were either non important or hadn’t the means to make their voice heard. Jemez knew he had a full house before the Barca game, so it appears that he has taken it upon himself to address the issue and he did so on Cope, a Spanish radio station, a few days before the Rayo-Barca game.

Spain has often been seen as a country where the rules are there to be bent rather than followed. A few years ago, it was revealed that a majority of politicians had no university degree and that even one major bank had a ballet dancer on its board of directors. Having the right qualifications isn’t always necessary in Spain and so the belief of many who support Zidane is that football should be no different.

Another question is why a European, Champions League, World Cup, numerous League and domestic Cup-winning player would need to study more. Surely he knows it all by now? Jemez doesn’t think so and called the situation an embarrassment.

“I think it is shameless. I don’t know why I studied and got my qualification when it results that in Spain you can coach without them. Not only that, I am disappointed with the council of coaches that did nothing,” added the Rayo boss.

Ancelotti, who has earned a reputation of being mellow and calm, suddenly sprang to his former assistant’s defence. He told Jemez that he spoke too much and said that Zidane was studying a two-year course with the French Football Federation and that in some countries you can coach whilst studying for your badges. He also added that in Spain this was not possible and tried to draw a line under the issue.

Jemez was having none of it and after the Barca game he continued to say that no matter what Carlo said, Zidane doesn’t have the necessary qualifications and so therefore can’t coach. He then told journalists to ‘run’ with his comments to Ancelotti and finished by saying he no longer wanted to talk about the issue.

Yet, later that night he appeared on Cuatro, a Spanish TV station, where he repeated himself and again said that he considered the issue closed. The international break has drawn a line in the sand for now, but for how long?

With La Liga returning next weekend, it is almost certain that both Coaches will be asked about the topic again. The LFP and the RFEF are planning to look into the situation, but they did admit when it was announced that Zidane didn’t have the necessary qualifications in the first place.

It was said by numerous media outlets that when Jose Mourinho left Spain that theatrics in the Press conferences would be a thing of the past but as Jemez has just done, and Diego Simeone has many times before and will do many more times in the future, there are plenty of trainers ready to set off a few fireworks.