The RFEF discovers that behind non-professional football there is a survival system that must be respected. Futsal manages to finish the season, but it has to settle the bill for women's football.
Luis Rubiales did not expect such a turbulent 2020. The worst of his problems in February was whether Casillas was going to take the throne away from him in April or October. The coronavirus crisis, the state of alarm and the confinement have been tightening the noose of football. Something more than a sport in Spain where it was never thought of being totally suspended.
While waiting for the de-escalation phases to bear fruit, for the ICUs to empty out and for people to become aware of how to live until a vaccine arrives, football has a plan to return. A few weeks ago we discussed how the return of professional football (First and Second Division) had been engineered. The CSD intervened to avoid further ridicule between Thebes and Rubiales. The League was getting its deadlines for the end of the season and the RFEF was acquiring the capacity to manage the rights of some non-professional sports through a foundation and money. Always money. In addition, there will be the Copa del Rey final with an audience of the Royal Society and Athletic where the beating of the anthem will be the least relevant. The Arabian Super Cup is waiting.
But the hot potato of non-professional football was held by Rubiales on his desk in Las Rozas. 2nd B and 3rd Division; women's football and indoor football that he has been managing since the end of 2019 when they decided to take it away from the National Indoor Football League by Article 33. The pressure has been enormous. The pressure has been enormous, on the level that the autonomous communities have put on Sanchez's government to advance in the different phases. Everyone wanted to play because, although they are not professionals, they play a lot. A fact that Rubiales does not want to understand because he knows that football is a huge speaker and a global showcase. If the return leg is normalised, society can understand that there is no longer any danger.
In Second Division B there will be promotions, but no demotions. The playoffs will be played in July by the top four players in each of four groups at a neutral venue. We are talking about Las Rozas (Madrid) or Pinatar Arena (Murcia). A venue that has plenty of fields and hotel capacity. Therefore, the Second B will increase next season from 80 to 98 clubs, which will be divided into five groups. There could be 100 to round off if they find two teams that meet the conditions. Rubiales has been able to activate the promotional plan when it was approved to end the season in Segunda with the corresponding relegations. The move from 2B to Segunda is a huge financial relief for the clubs.
In the Third Division the promotion mechanism will also be by a play off, but here a territorial criterion will be followed. Only one team from each of the 18 groups will be able to move up, and the matches will be between clubs from the same Community on neutral ground. In total, 18 promotions. Another oxygen bomb for the teams of Third that get a little more visibility in 2ªB and that is an economic return.
In this sport there is everything but sporting interests. A sub-committee of the RFEF has been managing the championship since October. A league that has been organised by the LNFS for 30 years and which has seen its name taken off in a flash. The reason: the LNFS sold the rights of indoor football to Mediapro, Rubiales' intimate enemy. A tip-off from the president of some club interested in breaking the status quo encouraged him to execute a legal loophole to manage the sport from Las Rozas as it is qualified as "non-professional" but it has its cachet. He managed to break the professional structure that he had achieved over the years, he took a showy product from Mediapro and tried to make money for the federation with indoor football. The RFEF's intention was to declare the competition null and void, but May is an important month for the renewal of sponsorships in futsal and there are teams that cannot be left without coverage. Barça, Inter Movistar or El Pozo Murcia depend on playing European competitions to close budgets and develop their squads. And only two can enter. Rubiales gave in to playing an express play-off so that the enemy TV would give minutes of exposure to the suffering sponsors. In the future, he will have to decide whether to treat indoor football as professional, having his own image rights and sponsors, or to treat it as non-professional and condemn it to federal ostracism.
There's been no pressure here. More like a settling of scores. The strike of a few months ago, the parallel league set up by the federation and the fact that LaLiga de Tebas is behind women's football with the sponsorship of Iberdrola have served to end it. It is not a professional sport so it is finished. Nor have they attended to reasons of sponsorship and television. The players have been furious and have accused Rubiales of "treating them like youngsters". It's one thing to fill one's mouth with flattery to get in tune with the inventor of feminism, Carmen Calvo, but it's another to be consistent.
In Rubiales' defence, it must be said that any decision he made would not be good. The powers granted to him by the CSD to end non-professional football were not as valuable. The RFEF has come up against the reality of every competition. It has discovered that 2B, 3B, women's football and futsal are surviving on a professional model. And you have to respect that.