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When you have two clowns in charge, Romanian football can only be a joke. Unfortunately, it’s not a good one

July 12, 2013 Leave a comment

If you wonder how on earth Victor Piturca, a recently convincted man, can still be in charge of Romania’s national team, the answer is quite simple, friends: his boss is no stranger to bending and even breaking the rules. Mircea Sandu is, for too many years now, in charge of FRF, the Romanian Football Federation, just like Dumitru Dragomir, the chief of LPF, the Professional Football League.

Dragomir and Sandu always put on a show for the media, as they don't get along. In fact, they ruin Romanian football together, in perfect agreement.

Dragomir and Sandu always put on a show for the media, as they don’t get along. In fact, they ruin Romanian football together, in perfect agreement.

These two had a difficult problem on their hands, after last season, when four teams relegated, while Universitatea Cluj and Rapid Bucharest were not granted the license to play in Liga 1 next season, due to financial problems. As the team from Cluj attacked the decision in Lausanne and won, regaining the right to stay in the top flight as the 17th club, Sandu and Dragomir realized the option to cut down the league to 16 teams has been cancelled, so they needed to find the 18th team. And quickly, because the league starts on the 20th of July. What were the options? Well, they’re quite clearly stated in FRF’s book of rules, but when your nickname is The Godfather, you don’t need to look there anymore, do you? 🙂 No, you can come up with this idea: we could organize a playout between Rapid Bucharest (who still shouldn’t play in Liga 1, as they never attacked the decision) and Concordia Chiajna (who, alongside CSMS Iasi, was one of the two relegated teams with a license for next season). The reasoning? We put together a team that had won on the pitch its’ right to stay in the top flight and one that was relegated on the pitch, but “avoided relegation” from the financial point of view. Basically, we make a mess of it and allow the clubs we want to compete for the place (and millions of Euros) at stake.

To be honest, this was probably the wierdest idea, yet it passed without problems and the two clubs will face each other on Saturday, with a place in Liga 1 at stake. Allowing Rapid (who recently changed ownership) this chance means throwing in the toilet your own Licensing manual, one that has relegated important clubs in the past and will probably be used to “kill” others in the future. Also, Concordia should have been matched with either CSMS Iasi or left in the second division, as the rules say, with a club from Liga 2 allowed to occupy the empty spot on sporting reasons. But that means following the rules. Following your own rules, the ones you ask everyone to obey, so that you can break them yourself…

Better late than on time

June 27, 2013 Leave a comment

If teams like Steaua or CFR do their best in Europe to make the Romanian league more credible and attractive for those reluctant to look this way, those who run the game always find a way to destroy all these efforts. In a grim period, with important clubs and cities forced to abandon the top flight mainly for financial reasons, the main topic is how Liga 1 will look next term. We had four teams relegated, while two others, Rapid and Universitatea Cluj, failed to get the license. It might like we’re down to 16 from 18, but it’s not that simple, not in this part of the world.

Sandu (left) and Dragomir (right) are in no rush. They surely aren't going anywhere...

Sandu (left) and Dragomir (right) are in no rush. They surely aren’t going anywhere…

Universitatea made an appeal in Lausanne and might overturn the decision, avoiding relegation, becoming the 17th eligible club. So, two scenarios are on the table: reducing the league to 16 teams, in case Cluj won’t make it, or finding a way to keep the current format. Of course, time doesn’t seem an ally at this point, with less than a month before the kick-off of the new season, but a recent gathering of those running the so called Professional League (LPF) and the Romanian Federation (FRF) stated the contrary. The leaders of the two organizations ended up arguing and came to no conclusion at the meeting held earlier this month. Instead of organizing the league, they ended up re-scheduling the whole thing. The date: 6th of July. To be more precise: two weeks before the first official matches of the new season. It’s not too late, as you might think. Here’s the president of the Federation, Mircea Sandu: “There’s plenty of time. I advise all the clubs in doubt about the league they’ll be playing next season to be prepared for everything.” Indeed, they should: one or two of the four relegated clubs could be granted the right to stay in Liga 1. If there’ll be need for just one, a playout could take place. Again, don’t worry about the lack of time, there’s plenty: “We could even arrange it on the 20th, when the league starts”. Yes, that was still Sandu, also known as The Godfather, making another small joke. Put all those together and you’ll have the picture of what has become Romanian footie under his and Dragomir’s (nicknamed Corleone) reign: one big, bad joke…

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