January 21, 2021

The power and the shield | sports

The power and the shield | sports



No one doubts the symbolic representation of the shield. It is the historical, emotional and unifying sign of the fans, the graphic heart that distinguishes each club from the others and, therefore, the basic sign of belonging to a team, although that has never prevented retouching and variations of all kinds in Shields. Probably there is no team in Spain that has not modified its main symbolic resource. Barça has redesigned it 11 times in 119 years. That is, an aesthetic review every 10.8 years, average that can be described as quite light. On Sunday, however, the assembly of delegates, legal representative of the club's 120,000 members, rejected in such a way the proposed modification of the shield that was not voted on. President Bartomeu ordered a strategic withdrawal and set aside the conflicting point of the agenda. This Monday he declared the demise of the new shield. He died before he was born.

A defeat has rarely been more predictable. The board did not understand that the rejection had nothing to do with emotions, nor with aesthetics, although it seemed so. It was a matter of power. What happened is related to the difficult survival of the old societal structures in the current model of football, built on corporations and not on popular property, without commercial profit, as in Spain with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic and Osasuna, only exempted by the law that established the birth of Sports Public Limited Companies in 1990.

The case of Real Madrid and Barça is more relevant than ever. All the advantages of its peculiar structure, beginning with an alleged greater social control and a higher degree of democratic activity within the clubs, are more questioned than ever by the transformation of football into an overwhelming business platform. In front of the new depositaries of power – American bankers, Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs – the two great Spanish clubs face the future with a diminishing margin of maneuver. Among other issues, they are limited by a model that prevents wild capital expansions, speculating with the shares and delivering the club to a single investor. It is possible that these limitations have something to do with the mysterious atony of Real Madrid in the last three summer markets.

For some time now, Barça and Real Madrid have maintained a delicate coexistence with the dominant economic structure in football. Surely that relationship will soon become resistance and who knows if in capitulation, although it sounds like a chimera. Football moves at the speed of light in all areas: in the rules that transform it into the playing field and the decisions that signal its business future. In the middle of this aggressive panorama, the old model resists as best he can. That was the question that was settled in the Barça assembly, with the shield as an alibi.

Although through a disappointing participation -600 delegates represented the opinion of 120,000 members-, the assembly used the debate on the shield to proclaim its power and place the leaders in a situation of defeat only possible in the old model that holds the Royal Madrid, Barça and Athletic. When the representatives of the partners observed the magnitude of their victory, they grew and torpedoed the new limit of debt that Bartomeu intended to set the board, typical proposal that the directors know how to process in the assemblies with a good dose of Vaseline. Not this time. The partners begin to understand that their model is in serious danger and that there is no better resistance to the times that come to proclaim their power, if necessary to shout.



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