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Politics are a topic for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Venezuela, a reality that does not escape their senior soccer team
There is no day when politics is not talked about in Venezuela. Opinions about the crisis that this country is going through are between pro-government and opposition, which debate in all possible planes. One of them is sports, specifically its soccer team, the 'Vinotinto', which has tried to be used as a flag of both sides in dispute.
The questions that arise around this dilemma are: how did the 'Vinotinto' reach the point of current politicization? and, above all, could this reality affect their athletic performance? In this special section of Latin American Post, we tell you about the case and we provide the answers.
To enter in context, we must clarify that this bomb exploded last March during the FIFA date that faced Venezuela and Argentina. Exactly the day before the engagement, as reported by El Comercio portal, when Antonio Ecarri, representative in Spain of the president in charge Juan Guaidó, held a meeting with some members of the 'Vinotinto' team and coach Rafael Dudamel. This meeting, of course, was spread through social networks becoming viral.
Just after Venezuela defeated Argentina, in the middle of the press conference at the end of the game, Dudamel said that his post was available, alleging that Mr. Ecarri's visit had been misinterpreted. "Everything has been politicized and I am the manager of a team that represents the whole country. We have received the ambassador's visit, with respect, because we are the Venezuelan team that covers the whole country. In Rancagua (Chile), we also attended Mr. Maduro's ambassador, but the visit has been used, sadly, for other purposes. "
Vinotinto: a government flag
However, to understand Dudamel's statements between the lines, it is necessary to see where the Vinotinto's resources come from and, therefore, their concern for the visit, which is not from any other place than the coffers of Nicolás Maduro's government. It is important to clarify that the government, through the PDVSA state oil company, serves as the main sponsor of the national team.
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According to an article by Prodavinci, Vinotinto's history in politics is way longer than expected: it began in 2007 when former President Hugo Chávez held the Copa América in Venezuela and took part in the party as a staff member.
From there on, as time passed and the government understood the media potential of the team, they got rid of the private sponsorships and made PDVSA a bastion of the team. This process was finally consolidated in 2017, when the last elections within the Venezuelan Soccer Federation arose and, illegally, Pedro Infante, Minister of Sports of Maduro, took the vice presidency of the entity, which allows him to intervene actively in decisions about the national team.
"An FVF that allowed this reality"
What is clear, as pointed to the website Medio Tiempo, Richard Páez, technical director of Venezuela during two pre-world cup processes and for many the father of the 'Vinotinto', is that all this reality of political confrontation that is experienced in Venezuelan soccer began with the concessions that the FVF gave to the national government.
"As of 2007, when they noticed that the support of private companies grew and that the 'Vinotinto' boom generated a lot of attention, the government took care of moving their hands and taking possession of the team. And of course the FVF, not to manage, on the other hand, was granting the government, until today, the power and absolute control of the national team. Crass error," said the manager.
However, Prodavinci adds that, despite the presence of Infante in the FVF and the partisan militancy in favor of the government of Laureano González, president of this entity, not everything can be controlled, since the majority of players in the national team have expressed their views on what happens in the country. Salomón Rondón, Roberto Rosales, Juan Pablo Añor and Captain Tomás Rincón, all summoned by Rafael Dudamel for the match against Argentina, had repeatedly requested the entrance of the famous humanitarian aid and the end of the Maduro government.
"In our beloved Venezuela, we are experiencing a moment of extreme hardship and adversity and we must get out of this, let's return hope to Venezuelans who want to rebuild our country. I will be an active part of the reconstruction that we all hope for, let's not lose hope," was one of the captain's tweets, broadcast by the Lara Press and which evidently clashes with the pro-government process that is reflected today in the heart of criollo soccer.
Of course, all this affects the performance of the national team in the future, and it is already doing so because, due to all this problem, it is said that Dudamel already has being offered to lead Chile. According to the newspaper Panorama, " after the turbulence experienced with the national team in their last two friendly matches, he began to sound like one of the options to lead Chile, due to the lack of confidence in Reinaldo Rueda, who could leave the position as manager of La Roja".
In the end, it will dawn and we will see what happens with this whole subject. What is certain is that there is a lot of entanglement in between and, while there are such marked differences among those involved, problems will continue to arise in the face of this year's Copa América and the start of the World Cup qualifiers.
LatinAmerican Post | Freddy Gonzales
Translated from "La Vinotinto: una selección de fútbol que se 'enredó' con la política"