To many Hondurans, you’ll know I follow Motagua. I have mentioned it in my blog a few times. I began to follow them because of the Padgett family, who I first lived in Honduras from Linaca supported them. I felt it was good to build unity in the relationship by supporting their football team, and I liked the idea that they were the underdog of the city, a kind of “Everton of Tegucigalpa” status, while also taking the title of the “people’s team”. However, the more I read about Motagua’s ownership, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ll go into depth about this later in the update.
My wife’s family are largely Olimpia supporters, especially Pam’s grandfather, Papa Milo, with whom I share light banter. Olimpia is more like the Manchester United of Honduras, being the media and financial powerhouse, as well as the most successful. They cherry pick the Honduran talent from around the league and sell them on for millions abroad, while also recruiting rejected talent from South America. I like to make corruption allegations against the team; that they buy league titles and referees, relying on suspicious looking luck, rather than playing a good and fair game. I muttered these little comments quite loudly throughout Sunday’s final against Real Sociedad (the team from the northern Honduras town Tocoa; not San Sebastian in Spain), when Olimpia wrapped up their 30th league title, which seemed to me, and I promise you I say this without bitterness, something of a hollow victory; another topic I’ll expand on in this article.
I still consider myself Motaguense, although I admit it’s become a very fair-weather affair these days. In fact, my dedication is so dire that I was cheering when they lost the title to the provincial team, Honduras Progreso, which was a kind of Leicester City moment for Honduras. They play in dark blue and have the Pepsi logo splattered across their shirts, as opposed to Olimpia which has Coca Cola. Once upon a time, Motagua seemed to be a good team, and every now and then they pick up a title. These days though, while hanging around the top, they seem to have a huge psychological defect when facing their arch-enemy and have been known to lose even when Olimpia are a man or two down. I receive a million memes after every defeat, which I thoroughly deserve as I do tend to laud it a bit (gluttony for punishment, especially being a Birmingham City fan). Pamela’s family like to remind me of it too; I like to suffer.
Another reason I suffer from supporting Motagua is thought that pug-faced thug of a president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, is also a Motagua fan. I want nothing in common with this man. A man who would rather attend a fashion event in Denmark on an expensive private jet to sell Honduras’s textile industry than go to a summit about corruption (maybe because his own corrupt methods will be leaked) being held in London at the same time, pretty much giving polite society and his own integrity the middle finger (read Meet Me at the Airport, Mr President). I now know how Aston Villa fans feel having another pug-faced tit amongst them, that being David Cameron.
Another aspect which makes supporting Motagua so difficult is it’s ownership. Many Latin American clubs have ownerships connected to dubious industries, especially in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico. The owner of the aforementioned team, Real Sociedad, is allegedly a narco-trafficker. In Motagua’s case it’s the Atala family, owners of one of Honduras’s biggest banking corporations, Banco FICOHSA, which makes Motagua as much a team of the people as Hilary Fracking Clinton. It was rumoured the bank was being investigated around the same time the Rosenthal family were arrested. They are as guilty as Olimpia in swallowing up the nation’s talent, except Olimpia do it far more effectively. However, this happens in all leagues with dominant forces.
I don’t particularly like the idea of deserting a team, but I would rather support Juticalpa, another provincial team from the ranchero department Olancho, who have made it to the final of the Copa Presidente, or as many like to call it Copa del Generalismo (I’m sure Spanish football lovers reading this will appreciate that) or la Copa JOH. The fun and the challenge has left Motagua. If they lose, I don’t care. If they win, I get to laugh at my wife and members of the family. Apart from that, supporting Motagua bores me.
I run the risk of appearing like a man with a mouth full of sour grapes, but winning a title seems such a dull affair, especially if your an Olimpia supporter, who must know deep down that, despite their 30th title, it’s a become something of a yawn and is as routine as brushing your teeth. Their monopoly and wealth makes the competition pointless. When they do lose, it brings haters like myself to the surface.
A big criticism I have is the competition itself. You see, there are only 10 teams with one regulation spot (I think), which is no fault of the Honduran Football Association; they can only play with what’s in front of them. The competition includes two seasons a year and, like all leagues, they play each other twice a season. Once they have played the 18 games, bizarrely, the top two teams get a bypass into the semi-final, while 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th placed teams go into a play-off. The winners of the play-offs go to the semi finals, and so forth, all of which are played over two legs. So effectively, a team that finishes 6th in a league of 10 could win the league, which loses the whole point of being a champion. They do this for each season, and over 12 months, two teams can potentially face each other up to eight times in the league alone, making it, in my opinion, a complete farce. Motagua and Olimpia have had low attendances of late, mainly due to the dangerous barras bravas supporters groups wrecking havoc, many of whom have close ties with the Maras. However, the attendances could suffer even more if they don’t try something to improve the formation of the league soon.
One way is to mimic the Scottish league and play one season over the course of the year and playing each other four times. No play offs, no bullshit. It’s not that different from the current set up, but at least the winner comes first, which will bring back dignity to the league.
Another way could be to join up the Guatemalan and El Salvadoran leagues. I have mentioned it to a few friends and they like the idea, but are extremely doubtful how they would pull it off. The idea is to pull the top six from each country, and form a second league with the other teams, and have a promotion and relegation set up. It would be more competitive and interesting, raising the standard of football a ten-fold. I am well aware of the CONCACAF (I have no idea who runs this footballing organisation any more. They all seem to be in a US prison) club cup, or whatever it is, which is nearly always won by a US or Mexican club. But this would certainly gain people’s interest in a whole new way. I understand there are more questions than answers, but this is a far better idea than the farce they have now.
30 league wins. So what!