Rubiales and Venancio end Spain's reign in futsal

The latest elimination from the European Championship and the open war against the LNFS leave the future of the sport in tatters
The president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales

AFP/GABRIEL BOUYS  -   The president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales

Fede Vidal's loneliness was best understood when Portugal eliminated Spain in the semi-finals of the last European Championship in the Netherlands. The coaching staff was made up of 18 people to try to win the eighth European Championship in history. 

None of them were able to unblock Vidal's decision-making when Portugal stepped on the gas to come from behind. From 0-2 to 2-2 and the final 4-2 as the Spanish team looked impotent. 

A situation very similar to that of the World Cup in Lithuania last September 2021. Again Portugal stepped up a gear and eventually came from behind, although on that occasion they had to go to extra time to deny Spain the dream of a third star in the quarter-finals. That elimination was the second worst in Spain's history at World Cups after Colombia in 2016 where Spain lost in the same round. 

The ruin experienced by the Spanish futsal team is a consequence of the fact that the inertia of the Spain of the World Cups and European Championships came to an end years ago. That Portugal has been the executioner of La Roja in futsal is no coincidence. It is the result of the work that their competition does from the grassroots level and with all the teams in the league. A model that has been exported by the National Futsal League (LNFS) for years and which has allowed Portuguese futsal to grow. 

However, Spain is experiencing a new civil war in the sport, as it did 30 years ago. If at that time Ángel María Villar and Aurelio Gómez Araújo, together with other protagonists, brought peace to futsal, now there is no intention to row in the same direction. A very serious situation that affects the clubs and, of course, the Spanish national team. 

The arrival of Luis Rubiales as president of the RFEF destroyed futsal. The management of the LNFS culminated with the sale of rights to LaLiga presided over by Javier Tebas and that was enough for Las Rozas to take action and arrogate to themselves the right to manage the sport without the LNFS. They could not bear the idea that a product that they also managed would end up in the hands of the "enemy", even if the latter paid several million euros that had a direct impact on the clubs.

José Venancio is the protagonist pulling the strings of futsal at the RFEF. The former coach from 2007 to 2020 has won four European Championships with Spain, but has not been able to sew the third World Cup star on the shirt. In 2020 he decided to leave his post and move on to manage futsal from the offices of the federation. He is an important guy for Rubiales because he directs the sport's votes when there are elections. 

Since his arrival in office, Spain has fallen to fourth in the world ranking, surpassed by Argentina, Portugal and Brazil. A regression where the big name is José Venancio, who saw the situation coming and decided to step aside, but not completely. His system of courses and official diplomas obliges all coaches in training to jump through hoops and pay federation fees to fulfil their dream of sitting on the bench. 

Fede Vidal's arrival in Spain was never a solution. He was Venancio's deputy for eight years, but his run of failures will see him sacked to cover for the failures of the other players. 

Futsal experts say that the person who should take the reins of the sport in the Federation is Pablo Lozano, president of the RFEF National Futsal Committee. A thorough cleansing of the top positions and, above all, a sporting model that will take hold in the clubs to avoid the clamorous change of style and players that Vidal has made in just a few months.

Barcelona fútbol sala
PHOTO - Barcelona futsal

The two stars that Javier Lozano lifted as coach are managed by the Federation as they please. On the one hand, they hide the images of the World Cups in Taiwan and Guatemala whenever they can, while, on the other, they are able to sell Venancio's image at international conferences as the coach who won those trophies at the beginning of the century. 

Months ago, Ángel María Villar publicly requested in Atalayar that the LNFS and the RFEF redirect their relations for the good of the sport. The Federation's policy of sanctions is stifling many clubs, which are seeing their income reduced and this is affecting their signings and the quality of the product. In the midst of this situation, the LNFS continues to spread the brand with which it has managed to give value to national futsal, although without the clubs that decided to betray this system and fled in the heat of the fables of Rojas. 

Even Pablo Lozano's patches can resuscitate the patient who is now dying. If the sport that once led Spain does not return, at least let those responsible be pointed out.