Pacta sunt ignoranda

Better quench that thirst with an ice cold glass of crude petroleum.

Sign of the times: the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) has unilaterally cancelled its sponsorship deal with Empresas Polar, the food and drinks giant, two and a half years before it expired. In a press release Empresas Polar responded with a detailed account of their work with the Federation and one simple question to them: “Why won’t (FVF) let us continue, with two and a half years left on our contract?”

Rafael Esquivel has been the president of the FVF since 1987 and has no intention of stepping down. That’s barely remarkable by football bureaucrat standards: the head of the South American Confederation, Paraguayan Nicolás Leoz has been its head since 1986, Julio Grondona has lead the Argentinan Football Association since 1979 and, until days ago, Ricardo Texeira had been president of Brazilian Football Confederation for 23 years.

During Esquivel’s tenure, our football has reached new heights, to the point of reaching a Copa America semi-final two years ago. Esquivel didn’t do it alone: Polar supported Venezuelan football and our national team: “La Vinotinto”when no one else did for more than 15 years. Polar even helped the FVF build a new specialized training center in Margarita. Looks like all that meant nothing to Mr. Esquivel.

This huge blow to Venezuelan football comes at a time where almost all clubs of our league are struggling to survive. A new article in sport newspaper Lider give us a glimpse of how difficult is for teams to keep up with basic expenses. As one football club head said: “…almost no football clubs generates enough profits even to reinvest in the team”.

No official explanation has been given for the decision to drop Polar, but Maracaibo newspaper La Verdad has hinted at a new partner for the FVF: none other that the PDVSA roja, rojita. Was the Polar-FVF partnership the first indirect casualty of the new Sport Law? Piensa mal y…

I wrote not long ago about our football and I was optimistic. After this, I’m not so sure anymore. Mr. Esquivel has preferred to be FVF’s president for life than keep a winning deal in place. Maybe Venezuela can still make it to 2014 World Cup, but who knows now?

33 thoughts on “Pacta sunt ignoranda

  1. It’s very sad that the government wants to seize something that we all love in order to score cheap political points.

    Football is more important than politics. WE have to ignore this shit and make it for all. Make the vinotinto for all.

    And ban the vuvuzelas please…

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  2. Rebus sic stantibus. Pehaps pressures and/or promises of ready cash plus Gys and IVAD polls anulled pacta sunt servanda. I am no sports fan but do seem to remember Chavez sneering at Vinotinto and soccer in general, insisting that (autochthonous?) baseball was Venezuela´s national sport — another case or rebus sic stantibus (read opportunism) in view of Vinotinto’s success and popularity.

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    • What the hellibus are you talkingus aboutus? Why notus write in Englishus so us poorus Mortaluses canus understandus what you are sayingus withoutus goingus to Google Translateus?

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      • Roberto N dear, I sincerely beg your pardon. I was not being supercilous — maybe I was misled by Gustavo´s header, a twist on “pacta sunt servanda” which means “agreements must be kept”, one of the principles of international law. However, rebus sic stantibus is another, concurent but contradictory principle, “things thus standing” i.e., under present circumstances, which may change, i.e. it all depends.. Those terms, however, resume a lot of thought about the subject of agreements.

        Regardless of whether you blame me or Gustavo, checking Google or whereever, for definitions or spelling, is by no means demeaning

        P.S. i.e. is id est is that is, a short hand, like e.g., residues of my high school education. Sorry about that.

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  3. This can barely come as a shock, knowing how reliant the development of pretty much any area of Venezuelan life HAS to depend on the chavista regime. And the fact the the most successful, universally cherished accomplishment (beside the National Symphonic Orchestra) had MALTIN POLAR written across its chest, as well as the Pepsi logo, had to be seen as a PR threat to the government. After all, and this trying to find some logical explanation as to why they would simply yank the sponsorship deal out of Polar’s hands, the fact that one successful project carries their name and not a PDVSA did seem rather “subliminal” in the sense that it could portray the image that it was thanks to Polar and just Polar that Venezuela began rising.
    It’s a shame this is happening. And it’s pretty much the first step in the application of the new Ley del Deporte, where private sponsors are frowned upon. Don’t be surprised that the 18 football clubs will be forced to deny Polar as a sponsor, or be offered by Movilnet or PDVSA more lucrative sponsorship deals.
    Paradoxically, the best thing we can wish for is for this to deflate the already flat lining quality of our football league (see results in Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana and compare to actual achievements of the national side. It doesn’t take much time to realize that the success of la Vinotinto is completely independent to the quality of the league).

    I really enjoy the fact that national football is debated in this website.

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    • Thanks for your support.

      The takeover of the FVF by the government was already in place. The local league is now called Copa Movilnet and as I said earlier, PDVSA is the sponsor of many clubs. Other major sponsors are state governorships, specially in Chavista states. TVES is looking to take away the TV rights from Meridiano. It’s just a matter of when, not if.

      For me, the decision of increasing the number of teams in the league was a huge mistake. With the only exception of Caracas FC, no teams are financially prepared to deal with a large season. Lider’s article does a better job of explaining that.

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      • Indeed, they’ve been trying to take over as much as possible. Fortunately, the private companies have fought back, somewhat. Banco Provincial is also now an important sponsor of the league, DirecTV wants to increase their share in the broadcasting rights, which would complicate TVES’s plans.
        And yes, the league expansion was poorly thought out and pretty much forced new teams to spring out of nowhere, creating a massive chaos of debt and business-model teams, instead of clubs with some if any social impact as a sporting institution ought to have (most of them lack even basic parts of what a Fútbol club entails, such as a youth system -canteras). It was all part of the hasty post-Copa America 2007-2008 season. 18 teams in first division, in a country that had a hard time dealing with twelve teams was declaring war on the sustainability of Venezuelan club football.

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        • Let’s see how long that FVF’s deals with Provincial and DirecTV lasts.

          The lack of “canteras” in clubs (except Caracas FC) is key. Real Esppor wanted to push that angle, but their plans went bust. A Criollitos-like program for our football is essential if the Vinotinto wants to make the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

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          • They are indeed vital. A Criollitos model would be interesting, but an even better model would be that of German clubs, which are based as some sort of public sport clubs. The big advantage is that right off the beginning, the kids come to the club, reducing costs and guaranteeing a good presence of potential players. From there on, it’s just natural filtering -only the ones who truly want it, will be come professionals. It’s a model worth keeping in mind, after all, they do have nearly 10% of their population registered in one or another Fussballverein, as well as enough silverware earned in international competitions to know the model really works.

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  4. Any prejudice against non-Chavista players will hurt the team. Football decisions should not be based on politics. Every time Chavez and the government enters a business, it goes to hell.

    Let’s face it, Polar Cerveza is universally accepted by all Venezuelans.

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  5. Wasn’t there a FIFA threat some years ago about removing the FVF from FIFA if it was found that state intervenes? Maybe this is a way around it.

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