Manuel Ruiz de Lopera, top leader of Betis between 1992 and 2010, dies | Soccer | Sports

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Manuel Ruiz de Lopera, top leader of Betis between 1992 and 2010, has died in Seville at the age of 79 as a result of a serious intestinal illness. The Andalusian businessman, who had been admitted to the ICU for weeks, has not been able to recover after undergoing surgery to solve an obstruction in his colon, which already affected him at the beginning of January and for which he remained hospitalized since last day. February ninth.

One of the most relevant characters in the history of Betis and also Spanish football has died. Lopera was part of an unforgettable football scene alongside presidents such as Jesús Gil, from Atlético, José Luis Núñez, from Barcelona, ​​José María Caneda, from Compostela, Ramón Mendoza and Lorenzo Sanz from Real Madrid or Luis Cuervas and José María del Nido in the Seville. With him, Betis was champion of the Copa del Rey in 2005 and runner-up of the Cup in 1997. They played in the Champions League in the 2005-06 season, the UEFA Cup in the seasons 1995-96, 1998-99, 2002 -03 and 2005-06, in addition to the Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1997-98 campaign.

In Lopera’s extensive mandate (18 years as club president) he was one of the main protagonists. He commanded the Sevillian club in a particular and very presidential way. He was the protagonist of multiple anecdotes in his relationship with other Spanish football clubs, journalists and politicians. Lopera, a businessman who created a fortune in Seville in the sixties and seventies selling household appliances and acting as a lender, was always a great Betis fan. He joined the Betic board shortly before the club’s conversion into a Public Limited Company, on June 30, 1992, but even before that the players remember the figure of Lopera who gave away televisions and money to footballers like Cardeñosa, Biosca, Javier López, Rafael Gordillo or José Ramón Esnaola, protagonists of Betis’ victory in the first Copa del Rey in 1977 after an epic final against Athletic de Iribar in goal (Betis won on penalties).

Lopera entered as economic vice president on the board of President Hugo Galera in 1991 and took advantage of the situation of the conversion of Betis into a public limited company under the Sports Joint Stock Companies Law of 1992. He became the largest shareholder of Betis on June 30, that year after projecting an image of the entity’s savior with the purchase of a significant shareholding package. The Andalusian team was in the Second Division. Lopera’s intention was to take him to First Division as soon as possible. A commitment that cost him two seasons until in May 1994 when Betis achieved the long-awaited promotion with Lorenzo Serra Ferrer on the bench.

A formidable stage for Betis in sports then began. Lopera showed himself to the world as a president who constantly invested in good players to make his team grow. Betis was third in 1995, eighth in 1996 and in 1997 they finished fourth, tied with third place, Deportivo. In addition, they played in the Cup final, which they lost at the Santiago Bernabéu against Figo and Guardiola’s Barcelona (3-2). Moments of glory for Lopera, who signed players like Vidakovic, Jarni, Finidi and Alfonso for Betis. The president became the idol of a fan base that adored him. Betis played three seasons in Europe (1995-96, 1997-98 and 1998-99) and reached the quarterfinals of the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998, when they lost to Chelsea.

The high point of Lopera’s mandate came in the summer of 1997, when he undertook the biggest signing to date in Spanish football, that of Denilson, for whom he paid Sâo Paulo 5,000 million pesetas, about 30 million euros today. . His economic potential was so great that he even lent money to Lorenzo Sanz, president of Madrid, so that the Madrid club could close some signings. Becoming the star of Betis, at a time when he had very intense radio fights with other presidents such as Jesús Gil, in 1998 he began to lose weight. Betis went down to Second in 2000, just when the top leader had remodeled half of the Benito Villamarín. After a popular vote, the stadium was renamed Manuel Ruiz de Lopera.

Betis went up to First Division in a distressing way in 2001 along with Sevilla and Tenerife in the best Second Division in memory along with Atlético de Madrid, who did not advance. A period began in which a great generation of youth players emerged, led by Joaquín, who had his most important moment in 2005 after finishing sixth in 2002 and playing in the UEFA Cup the following year. Again with the help of Lorezo Serra Ferrer on the bench, and with the Brazilians Edu, Oliveira, Assunçao and Denilson escorting the youngsters like Doblas, Varela, Juanito, Capi, Arzu, Dani and Joaquín himself, Betis won the Cup del Rey in 2005 (2-1 against Osasuna) and finished fourth in the League, being the first Andalusian team to compete in the Champions League in the 2005-06 season. The Sevillian team still left some legendary night to remember, such as the victory against Mourinho’s Chelsea (1-0, goal from Dani), but from that 2005-06 season onwards, Betis entered into a sporting drift that Lopera was unable to reverse. tackle. He was no longer the president admired by his people in the mid-nineties. His way of running the club did not correspond to the new times of football that ended up devouring him. Clinging to the position and the power of his actions, Lopera was unable to create an efficient transition after his long period of power at Betis. Increasingly further away from reality, he ran the club from his personal offices, without going to the Betic stadium and even fighting with the then president of the Junta de Andalucía, Manuel Chaves.

At the same time, opposition to his personal management was emerging that ended up in court to denounce Lopera’s ways in command of the club. With the team in sporting depression, the relegation to the Second Division in 2009, already in the midst of an important climate of protest against his management by the fans, sentenced him. More than 60,000 Beticos demonstrated on June 15, 2009 for him to leave the entity. He lasted one more year in office amid strong pressure and, after Betis failed to achieve promotion in 2010, he sold his stake in July of that year to businessman Luis Oliver for 18 million euros. A sale that was paralyzed by the courts after the club was intervened by Judge Mercedes Alaya in response to a complaint filed by an increasingly solid opposition. After multiple judicial procedures, this opposition was able to prove that Lopera became the largest shareholder of Betis irregularly in 1992. However, an agreement with the rest of the shareholders in 2017 had settled his relationship with the club.

Says goodbye to the president of Betis, who had as coaches, among others, Sergio Kresic, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, Luis Aragonés, Javier Clemente, Carlos Timoteo Griguol, Guus Hiddink, Faruk Hadzibegic, Fernando Vázquez, Luis del Sol, Juande Ramos, Víctor Fernández, Javier Irureta, Luis Fernández, Héctor Cúper or Francisco Chaparro. With Lopera, footballers such as Cuéllar, Alexis, Roberto Ríos, Pier, Stosic, Alfonso, Finidi, Jarni, Denilson, Cañas, Merino, Oli, Joaquín, Oliveira, Capi, Edu and Assunçao played for Betis. The protagonist of countless anecdotes and bizarre situations in the history of Betis also says goodbye. As examples, his break into the player Benjamín’s house during a players’ party on Halloween night in 2001 or the very strong fight he had with José María del Nido, president of Sevilla, to whom he placed a bust of himself in front of him. his side in the box in a cup derby in 2007. The same derby in which Juande Ramos was hit by a bottle and carried off on a stretcher by the then Manuel Ruiz de Lopera. The man, too, who paid only married players with El Corte Inglés checks, who gathered the footballers together when the Seville Fair arrived and who negotiated transfers until dawn in eternal meetings where no food was served to wear out the agents. of the footballers.

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