Joel González: “In sports there are more fights than people can imagine”



Joel González Bonilla (Figueras, 1989) has been one of the most relevant generational talents in Spanish sport in the last decade. An Olympic gold in the Olympics. of London 2012, a bronze in Rio 2016 and three World Cups endorse his sports career. However, his end in taekwondo has come sooner than he expected. A confrontation with the Spanish Federation ended with his expulsion from the CAR of Sant Cugat. This situation anticipated his retirement and made him focus on his academic life, where he already has a degree, two master’s degrees and is finishing a doctorate at UCAM on how sports betting can be an indication of match-fixing.

-He has just obtained a master’s degree in comprehensive security management and direction. I see that you do not waste time after your sporting career.

-I have always said that sports life is short and that you have to prepare for the start. The best way was to specialize in other aspects of life by studying.

-At 31 years old, he has a career in Criminology, two masters and is getting a doctorate. In the world of athletes, it is not very common for someone to get a PhD …

-Whether you like it or not, studying is like everything in life and you get hooked. I got my degree in Criminology and from there I wanted to learn more. I was passionate about prevention and security, corruption … I wanted to unite my two passions, which are research and sports.

-Talk about sports corruption. Right now, his doctoral thesis is on this issue and he has also collaborated with organizations such as the LFP. Where does this curiosity come from?

-It all started after I finished criminology. I had a talk with Javier Tebas and the topic came up when I told him that I had that career. He was very interested in it because he was an Olympic champion and had that knowledge. They wanted match-fixing to stop and saw that adding the vision of an elite athlete could help. I also worked for UEFA this summer, it was awesome.

-What opinion do you have about sports betting houses?

-Since time immemorial there are sports betting, since Roman times. Yes, it is true that you have to be careful with gambling and protect the minor. I think that as long as it does not interfere in the sport and there are fixes, if people want to bet, they have every right. I do not think it is a social scourge, although you have to worry about minors and vulnerable people. For me it is a business like any other.

-You have been working from within. Are match-fixing more common than people think?

-Yes, you often see things, more than people think. But it is always difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove. In my doctoral thesis, which I will present at the end of July, I give some advice on how we detect them. What I can tell you is that there is more than what people can imagine.

-You have had a very busy year with your expulsion from the CAR and your retirement. Did you expect everything that has happened to you during these months?

-Well, the truth is that no. It looked like an avalanche. When things couldn’t get worse, they did. But hey, I take the warmth of the people who have always been with me and I have decided to step aside because I believe that I can no longer be one hundred percent.

-How did you see yourself before the ‘riff-raff’ was given with the Spanish Federation?

-In competition, I saw myself in another World Cup. In the Olympics not because someone else had qualified and I was left without a place. In the management, yes it was a bit sad because we have been together a long time. After all that we have achieved, it is sad that because you do not think like certain people the forms dissipate. We are a sport in which values ​​are fundamental.

-A few months ago a great commotion was formed with his expulsion from the CAR. He said publicly that it was due to retaliation for having criticized the Federation. Now cold, do you still keep those statements?

-When there are well-off people at the top and people who think differently come, they no longer like you so much. We are a very small Federation and they told me that you are with me or you are against me. I keep it because they told me. I am neither in favor nor against, but I want things to be done well and right now they are not being done.

-They defended his expulsion because he was no longer going for the CAR. It’s true?

-What they are looking for is to excuse themselves. It is true that the last two months I did not go much but like the whole team because there was a European championship and there was no one. First of all we are people and things could have been done differently. They could have come to talk to me for lunch, thanking me for everything I have done and letting me know that they no longer count on me. I would have said I understand and nothing happens. But don’t throw me out for a WhatsApp, they don’t even send it to me, to tell me that you won’t pay me starting tomorrow.

-Was this situation the one that made you decide to retire?

-I had already thought about it but yes, it was a bit of the solution to get rid of all the tangle of corruption and secrecy that is in there. All I wanted was to enjoy Taekwondo, which is what I have done all my life. I have already achieved my goals to spare and I leave with that memory. By competing I no longer have that bug.

-Without taekwondo in his life, where will Joel González find his new passion?

-Well I do not know. As I said in my farewell, I have to give it a lot of thought to see how I face what is coming. I have been linked to many organizations throughout my career. Once I finish my PhD, I will weigh my options. I would love to continue linked to sports and criminology. The option of helping with UCAM in teaching would be very nice for me. We are talking and it is very possible that I will stay with them.

-I understand that you are passionate about teaching.

-Yes because I believe that young people make decisions through the advice that their teachers give them. If you explain something with emotion and pass on your knowledge, it makes you want to know more about those things. It would be very nice to be able to transmit the illusion about what I have studied.

-It is Catalan but I imagine that the Region of Murcia must have an important meaning for you. He started at the CAR of Los Alcázares and has been professionally trained here …

-Of course. I spent my seventeen and my eighteen there. It was a magical time, I remember it very well. I had very good friends and Murcia took good care of me. I have been in constant contact with your land. You have a special charisma when it comes to relating, you are always smiling. And well, perhaps that is why the UCAM option is one of those that has the most weight. It would be like coming home.

-Murcia, the great unknown of Spain.

-Indeed. Whoever comes always falls in love with the city. There are times when I tell my friends that I am going to Murcia and they ask me if I am going to the desert. Then when they come they hallucinate with the cathedral, with the coast … In the end it is pure ignorance.

-What advice would you give to someone who wants to start in the world of taekwondo?

-I would tell you not to push yourself, in taekwondo or in any sport. You do not have to be obfuscated with super long objectives that you do not know if they are going to be met. You do not have to try to be world champions when you are not yet champion of Spain. Sport is to be enjoyed.

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