World News: Flamengo coach in trouble & Vogel sues club

In the category “soccer news out of the ordinary”, the phrase “Give him a good kick!” might prove costly for Brazilian club Flamengo coach Joel Santana. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, swiss international Johann Vogel is suing his club Real Betis because his coach (Hector Cuper) forbid him from training with his teammates.

Joel Santana

“Publicly instigating violence” is a serious offence in the Brazilian soccer league (or in any other country or sport for that matter), and Joel Santana might have to pay the price for his words. In the last Flamengo-Santos match of the campeonato brasileiro (won 3-0 by Santos), Flamengo coach Santana pushed the envelope a little too far in trying to remotivate his team (already down by 3 goals). His phrase: “If they start clowning around, you have give them a good kick” was unfortunately (for him) caught on tape by the microphones set up near the substitute bench, and was widely broadcast on Brazilian television Monday.

Paulo Smith, attorney general of the Brazilian Superiour Court of Sports Justice (STJD) has opened an investigation, and declared that “the coach has a huge responsibility during a soccer game, higher than any other person present on the field. Soccer is passion and spectacle, and we can’t minimize this type of behaviour or pretend that nothing happened. If we don’t intervene, we will be sending the wrong message that actions like these are tolerated”.

In his defense, Santana admitted that he used an “inappropriate expression”, but that it was only a “typical expression of soccer”. Some are talking about a punishment of 1 or even 2 years’ suspension, we’ll see how it goes.

This incident is somewhat reminiscent of the trouble Spain’s coach Luis Aragones had to face over a year ago. In that episode, the Spanish coach also pushed the envelope too far in trying to “motivate” one of his players, José Antonio Reyes.

Johan Vogel, age 30In other news, it is now open war between Johann Vogel and Spanish club Real Betis. The swiss midfielder has just recently appealed to legal means to solve the dispute with his club, who will not let him train with the rest of the team.

Team manager Hector Cuper has made it expressedly clear that he would not be counting on Vogel for the upcoming season, and with the support of the club’s administration, forbid him to participate in the pre-season training sessions. This move was done to convince the Swiss player to start looking for a new club, but Vogel didn’t like the treatment and pulled out a move of his own.

First, he reported to the training session with his lawyer and a notary, who would testify to his ban from training. Then, he went to the local courthouse and sued his club Betis for “breach of contract” and “missed payments”. Indeed, Cuper’s decision negates Vogel’s “right to work” under the current contract. The Spanish press, while recognizing that Vogel’s performance at Betis so far had been quite poor, took sides with the Swiss player because he has every right to be training with the team.

So it seems that the bottom line is the following: you can take a player out of first team matches to make a point (see last season’s Real Madrid-Beckham issue), you can fine him and suspend him for inappropriate behaviour (see the numerous Antonio Cassano incidents with Roma and Real Madrid), but you can’t prevent a player from training? I agree with the notion of players protecting their own interests, but I don’t follow the logic. We’ll see what the Spanish courts decide…

Posted in World News |

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  • 2 Responses to “World News: Flamengo coach in trouble & Vogel sues club”

    1. Temi says:

      I don’t know that you can compare the content of the Flamengo Coach’s speech to the blatantly racist supposedly motivational speech given by Aragones. Apples and oranges there… In this case, the media and the authorities are clearly overreacting to a tactical statement [harassing the opposition and trying to foul them is a tactic - not a nice one, but still one], in the other, the coach made racist statements and tried to disguise them as motivation.

      Other than that… good job with the site! :razz:

    2. Mmmh I don’t know Temi… you might see it as the media overreacting, but what Santana said is pretty serious. It’s one thing to tell your players to foul your opponents if you can’t stop them any other way (in this case “fouling” is a general term, which could encompass “pushing them out of the way”, “pulling their shirt” etc. all non injury-risk acts). It’s another thing telling your players to “give them a good kick”, i.e. intentionally hurting your opponents as a means of motivation… it terms of sportsmanship that’s a serious offence! Especially if (like in this case) the whole thing gets caught on tape. If you want to motivate your players that way, you better make sure no one’s listening. It’s the whole “lead by example” and “be an inspiration to kids” idea… when you’re under the public eye, you’ve got to watch your mouth.

      At the same time, I didn’t mean to to minimize the seriousness of Aragones’ words, but in a way, one could see it as a similar (albeit misguided) attempt to motivate a player. The Spanish players have repeatedly defended the coach stating he is not racist. So what’s the deal? My take is that in sports motivational speeches you’re trying to build up your team and demean the opposition. Sometimes you’re going to go to extremes in order to do that, using words relating to a person’s cultural or racial heritage. So did Aragones’ words reveal his true ideals? I don’t know, maybe he just slipped up… is that enough to label him as a racist? I mean he’s got Marcos Senna in his team… would he be calling up a black player to the national team if he was really racist? I don’t think so.

      Anyways, the point I was trying to make by comparing the two incidents, is that their attempt “to motivate” is what brought the two coaches into trouble, and in both cases it’s because they forgot that someone was listening.