Unsustainable football, Vallecas always | Soccer | Sports


Fede Valverde took the rebound, hit it with all his soul and scored it. He put it on the balcony of some neighbors on the third or fourth floor of one of those buildings in Vallecas that overlook the goal of the Rayo stadium where there is no bottom. It happened last year. But this season something similar happened again and a ball ended up in the street. A short circuit that breaks that soft and artificial mirage in which the immaculate spectacle of televised football takes place. And that is part of the charm of this court. Football from the beginning, imperfect, crude… but in the First Division. A field today without decent maintenance, but still unique for the spectators, for the neighborhood and for the players.

El Rayo was one of the few things we had left. And now perhaps he won’t even be able to play in the neighborhood that made him great. “It is increasingly unsustainable for him to continue in Vallecas,” said the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. Unsustainable, rather, this football seems. It seemed unsustainable to place the Power Rangers fortress in the middle of the Castellana, and there is the new Bernabéu. Or that a club in the economic state of Barcelona could build a new stadium – sorry, Espai Barça – for 1,472 million, even if it were at the cost, among other things, of dubious working conditions for those who build it. It should not seem unsustainable to us that a club that feeds and feeds on the ecosystem of a community has to leave that environment to favor an urban operation. Yes, we already know, the stadium is terrible – just look at the images of this Saturday’s hailstorm – this will allow you to survive, earn money. But it will make one of the club’s main social missions meaningless and does not guarantee any sporting success. Ask Espanyol, which has a beautiful English-style field in Cornellà and a team in the Second Division.

In Vallecas “many consider themselves Vallecano rather than Madrid”, wrote Ignacio Pato in his wonderful Popular stand (Panenka, 2022). The same author launches in April It is not a beast to tame (Altamarea), a book about Rayo in which it also touches on this issue of canchistic geography from the same prologue, the work of Aitor Lagunas. Some fields said a lot about the neighborhood where they were located, and the hobbies that populated them. Sarrià, Les Corts, Atocha,… But neither those people already live there, nor those who are going to move attracted by an old working-class environment now dominated by cafes cool He has no interest in that matter or in the fact that there is no toilet paper in the stadium bathrooms. It’s called gentrification. Two of the districts where housing prices have increased the most in Madrid: Puente de Vallecas and Villa de Vallecas, where 350,000 inhabitants live, the same as in Bilbao. And Valdecarros, the place where Rayo should move, on the edge of the district, is the largest urban development in Spain.

A human chain surrounded the stadium this weekend asking that the team not move. But it does not seem that neither the club’s ownership nor the administrations are up to the task. The president of the Community, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has never gone to the Vallecas box: she dresses less than the Bernabéu or the Metropolitano. And it has a too political and uncomfortable air. Yes, however, Santiago Abascal and Rocío Monasterio did, perhaps for that same reason. And because it was the day that Roman Zozulya returned to the field, a Ukrainian forward who signed for Rayo in 2017, but who never debuted with the Rayista shirt due to his flirtations with the far right. Given the panorama, as Lagunas writes, one would think that the only unsustainable thing is that Rayo does not continue in Vallecas. We have them cornered, as John Rambo told Colonel Truman before he was taken to a military prison.

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