bruno de carvalho - august 2015


Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho, incensed at what he saw as refereeing ‘robbery’ in the Champions League play-off with CSKA Moscow (both legs, which finished 2-1/1-3), posted the following to his facebook page on 27 August 2015 (translation by footballportugal):


There are hundreds of thousands of people that depend on football for a living. They’re an integral part of structures, organisms, entities, associations, companies, agencies … an endless number of professionals. Beyond that there are millions of people who know nothing about the ins and outs of football but still come up with theories on a daily basis, creating elaborate explanations of what they call the sporting phenomenon. They weave a set of complex ideas in which the system, the model, notions of offense and defence … everything serves to create explanation formulas so that common mortals can understand this global activity that we affectionately call a phenomenon.

I continue to believe that the secret lies in simplicity. Things are as they are, full stop. Football is no exception. The sporting phenomenon is no more than a frenetic attempt to try to control a sport that has managed to incite the passion of billions of people. And if there’s passion, and almost the whole world gets excited about it, then it will involve money, and a lot of it. With money comes the anxiety for power because whoever has the power controls the money. But power can’t be philosophical – it has to be real, it has to emerge from effective control. But with real control comes the common people’s notion of injustice, corruption and falsehood in sport.

And so the theory of error was created. Error, the beast that haunts the day-to-day of common mortals and can lead to dismissal, death, accidents and so many other misfortunes, but that in football is healthy and natural. To err is human, they say. Those who have never erred, let them cast the first stone, they say. Error is part of the game (read ‘control’), they say. Without error, football loses its fun and naturalness (read ‘control’), they say. The theory of error as a friend of football is winning ground because even those who don’t believe it hide behind I don’t actually agree with any of that but those are UEFA and FIFA’s directives.

Now that we’ve identified the thing, or rather the sporting phenomenon, all that’s left is the consequence. At the end of the day, how should we deal with and react to the thing? In this case, too, simplicity is the key to success. The wheel is already invented. What has common society created to deal with illegal powers created within the legal power? Prisons! Whoever operates outside the law is arrested! Whoever steals is arrested! Whoever acts in self-interest and not for the common interest is sentenced.

Football cannot be transformed into a paradise of crime. It cannot become a sub-system of illegality. It cannot be an amoral thing. Football has to be subject to the laws, rules and conduct that society at large is obliged to comply with. Whoever intervenes in the game and steals has to be arrested; there’s no other solution without creating a parallel society that threatens everything we’ve learned to respect. If we don’t begin to identify and arrest the corruptors and the corrupted, if we don’t begin to demand from football the same compliance with laws and rules as the rest of society, if we don’t halt the runaway struggle for power and its control mechanisms, for example by the immediate introduction of the video-referee, which would reduce at a stroke 90% of that effective control, football risks being defined after that brilliant piece of popular wisdom: if it looks like shit, smells like shit and tastes like shit, then it must be shit.


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