Football ?90

Viorel Moţoc, journalist, 35 years old Interview done by Petre Popovăţ

In order to talk about what the Romanian football meant during the ?90s, we must take into account what it had meant before this time. Anyway, the year 1990 found the Romanian football in a very good and paradoxical situation: worldwide, the Romanian football had remarkable results. For the first time in twenty years, the national football team had managed to qualify for a final stage of a competition, while in what concerned the Romanian football clubs, the results within the European Cups were remarkable. Steaua was disputing the second Champions League final, in 1989. That, after having won the Champions League in 1986 at Seville, playing against F.C. Barcelona. In 1990, also at club level, Dinamo managed to qualify for the final stage of Euro League. Hence, the results on an international level were good, heading towards very good.

The national championship milieu was dominated by two hegemonic clubs- Steaua and Dinamo, one team belonging to the army and the other belonging to the Security Forces. Teams which gathered the best football players in the country and which thus had obtained very good results. In the past, the players used to earn more than the average Romanian wage, but nobody can say that they received the amounts offered to the professional players in the really important championships abroad. For example, for having won the Champions League, the players from Steaua football club received an ARO car each and some bonuses of several tens of thousands of lei. After 1990, the income started to be more substantial, but by no means can one say that they reached the level of those offered by the Occidental clubs.

What I really wanted to say is that the situation present in 1990 affected the results obtained by the Romanian football during the entire decade. On an international level, the national team got the best results of its entire history (three qualifications in world championships, two qualifications in European championships) while the national championship kept on being dominated by corruption, padded results, a situation tracing its roots in that prior to 1990. Corruption used to exist before. A somehow similar phenomenon to that present among the entire Romanian society took place. Once the fear of the repressive security forces vanished, the entire environment atomised and each of us tried to cope with the massive loss of authority that the security forces and the state had registered. The privatisation of the clubs had been a pervert phenomenon, as well as that involving the state companies. For example, the main clubs, Steaua and Dinamo, step by step and by means of certain tricks (not necessarily financial, rather administrative) managed to be passed on from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of National Defence to the hands of certain managers.

Favoured by a loss of authority, an interesting phenomenon, called ?the cooperative? appeared within the national championship. Before ?89, the small clubs used to depend on the two big ones, being more or less their affiliates. Everybody knew that certain small clubs in the countryside were actually playing for Steaua and others for Dinamo. Meaning that, the moment they met the direct adversary of the representative, they used to be tough, while at the same time giving up their points in favour of the ?senior?, of the ?motherclub?.

Once these major clubs started losing their authority, the small clubs regained their independence, thus discovering that they possessed certain power. Under these conditions, ?the cooperative? was the one deciding who was the champion and who was demoted. The following teams were part of ?the cooperative?: Gloria Bistriţa and its famous Jean Pădureanu (?Papa Jean?), FCM Bacău, Ceahlăul Piatra-Neamţ, FC Argeş, etc. Other smaller teams used to join them as well. It was precisely the way it used to be during the championships in the past: one year pulling the strings for Steaua, the next, for Dinamo. They were dividing the points between them based on a mutual agreement: you win on your ground and I win on mine. If we were to compare this situation to the overall society, the presidents of the cooperative used to be a sort of local barons. The moment the centre turned weaker, the clubs gained certain independence, thus being able to manage their own business and to follow their interests. A certain part of the referees was also co-opted in this. One cannot make a general statement, but the situation with the affiliate referees had been known for a long time and if you wanted to avoid problems during a match, you were supposed to summon X or Y referee.

As a matter of fact, the Romanian football is no longer profitable. In order to attain this goal, a football industry is also needed, so as to gain money from selling the broadcasting rights, from attracting sponsors, publicity contracts, tickets, subscriptions, an entire adjacent industry (which presupposes selling T-shirts, flags, banners with the symbols of the club) and transfers, money obtained from the participation on various European competitions. In our case, all these are inexistent or very little present.

If analysing the ?90s, the biggest money had been made from transferring players abroad. That was a phenomenon similar to third world countries. We exported raw material and all the money were spent on consumption and not on development. The major clubs (Steaua and Dinamo), those having the best players in the ?90s, quickly sold them in the first years, thus getting the money. Both presidents, the one from Dinamo as well as the one from Steaua, had been involved in legal problems. Vasile Ianul from Dinamo was in custody, while Cornel Oţelea from Steaua was on remand. At the moment, millions and millions of dollars had been obtained, but nobody ever knew what happened with the money. There was another case, involving Steaua, the one concerning the transfer of Ilie Dumitrescu to a club in England. The account books of the club in England were stating a sum, whereas in Romania, the situation was different. The difference resided in something more than a million dollars. What had been done with that money, nobody knows! The thing is that the presidents of the respective clubs, instead of investing money in modernising the clubs, meaning in building centres for children and junior players, in creating training centres, they squandered the money, so that nothing could be done with it and, the more the time passed the less we had to export an there was no other source of money left.

Given the fact that the clubs receiving the players were from the Occident, the transfers had to obey their laws. A club pays another club for transferring a player, then the player receives an annual fare and the negotiator, or the procurator receives his negotiable commission. The most famous procurators were the Becali brothers, Ion (Giovanni) and Victor. There are others as well, but not that important. Florin Iacob from Timişoara and Cămătaru in Craiova, Ilie Dumitrescu who made an attempt after quitting sports? But the main players in the Romanian football environment are under the supervision of the Becali brothers.

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