Tag Archives: Real Madrid

Bye, Vistalegre

On Wednesday 2nd June I attended Real Madrid – Caja Laboral basketball match at Vistalegre. Even in the case of winning, I was not going be able to attend the following match on Friday 4th and I had a gut feeling that it was going to be the last match I watched at Vistalegre since Real Madrid is moving to La Caja Mágica next season. Moreover, I am not sure whether next year I will take the season-ticket again, so I felt like taking pictures to remember the last 3 years of basket experience.

Even though the team has not won a single title since we started attending matches I must say that it has been a great fun. It all started on the late summer of 2007, when my two friends Pablo´s talked about taking those tickets, and I joined them.

We have had the chance to see great teams (CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos, Barcelona, Maccabi, TAU…) and great players (Navarro, Rudy, Garbajosa, Papaloukas, Jasikevicius…).

Each year we had to learn about the new signings, which all seemed promising then they weren’t that good (Smith, Tunceri, Pelekanos, Tomas, Hosley, Massey, Papadopoulos, Velickovic, Lavrinovic, …) and the team had to rely mostly on the same players than years before.

This last year seemed even more promising than the previous two: we had signed the best coach in Europe, all new players seemed very effective from the start, the speaker of the stadium really cheered the audience, we were doing great in all competitions, the club even reinstated cheerleaders, when we had a setback an even flashier player would come (Jaric), but then, the year has ended as the previous ones.

One of the best things along these years have been the matches on Thursdays, meaning a break in the work week, a chance to meet friends and have a kebab for dinner where to continue talking about planes, the company, etc.

Maybe next year will be a better one, though I’m afraid I won’t be in the North side whistling rival attacks and referees decisions…

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Filed under Sports

3 wishes to Nosso Senhor do Bonfim

Just back from a two-week trip to Brazil, I’ll start with the first one of a series of posts. This one is about the last church we visited in Brazil: Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (Our Lord of the Good End). This is the most famous church in Salvador de Bahia, therefore if you are interested in getting to know about its architecture, etc., you may check it on the Wikipedia.

When you approach the church the first thing that catches your attention are the thousands of little ribbons (fitas) of multitude colours attached to the entrance. Beforehand you have been offered those ribbons everywhere around the city. Prayers come to Bonfim and together with their prayer they take one of the little ribbons, and attach it to themselves (or the entrance, the benches or the candles in the church…) making three knots. Supposedly they are granted one wish for each of the knots, and they shall not remove the ribbon until the wishes come true.

Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim.

We all have seen youngsters wearing this kind of ribbons with the same wish-that-comes-true bond. Nevertheless, I find it curious that it is connected to the church. But on the other hand, two other examples that I found years ago come to my mind.

The first one is from a visit to Estonia in 2003. In the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, in Tallinn, the church also provided people with a piece of paper where to write their wishes to later deposit the paper in a box (after due payment, of course). I may still have somewhere at home one of those papers… obviously having taken the paper with me nothing was wished so nothing could be proved about the effectiveness Alexander Nevsky. I accept a scientific reprimand.

The other example is from Japan. There, close to Shinto shrines we can find Ema, or small wooden plaques where wishes are written upon and which are left hanging from special places destined to them. Again, you see thousands of them sometimes. I felt more scientifically obliged in 2008, so I used my chance to ask for only one wish; nothing personal, nothing related to love or richness (something that the genius of the lamp surely would have approved): I wished for Real Madrid to win the 2008/2009 Champion’s League… did I succeed? Well, that season Barcelona won the League, the Spanish Cup, Champion’s League, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, and Club’s World Cup… not very effective.

Shinto wooden plaques, Japan.

The idea of asking for that wish started out as an exercise to prove the existence of God and at the same time checking to which confession He felt closer… but that is to be explained in another post.

Going back to our business of today: Every superstitious person will argue that my wish in Japan didn’t come true solely because of making it public before it happened, but that is what all Japanese do! Once bitten, twice shy: this time I have been more cautious. I took my fita do Bonfim and attached it to the entrance iron wall and will keep silence about those wishes until they come true. Will they?

Me and fitas do Bonfim.

Well, I have a basis to think they will. Take a look at the pictures of the Room of the Miracles below. This is a room within the church where people who have seen their prayers’ effect leave a picture of themselves with a thank you note, a poem, an explanation of the miracle that occurred to them… and even wax or wooden replicas of different parts of the human body that were healed by Senhor do Bonfim… (this view is bizarre to say the least).

The Room of the Miracles.

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FC Barcelona copying Real Madrid

The Sports Business Group from Deloitte recently published its 2009 Football Money League report. It is a quite interesting report for football fans.  

The first remarkable table is that showing Real Madrid and Barcelona well ahead other European clubs. 

2009 Money League ranking.


I was reading parts of it and I was wondering… what is the difference between Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s model? 

In the graphics below you may see the revenue sources for both clubs. The differences are minimal in two chapters: Matchday (6M€, 6% higher for Real) and Broadcasting (2.5M€, 1.5% higher for Real). The main difference comes from Commercial revenues: with Real Madrid earning 139.2M€, 27.2M€ more than Barcelona. The main driver for this difference are revenues generated by shirt sponsorship, which according to the report are worth 15-20M€ for Real while Barcelona is not charging Unicef for this concept. 

Real Madrid & FC Barcelona revenue sources.


In this other graphic you may compare the skyrocketing revenue growth for both clubs. Real Madrid’s positive trend starting in 2000, when Florentino was elected President and Barcelona’s starting in 2003, when Laporta was elected President. 

Real Madrid & FC Barcelona revenue growth.


David Allen and Raúl Eguía, from the Instituto de Empresa, published a very interesting study: “FC Barcelona: Changing the rules of the game” in October 2004. 

That report reviews the months before and after Laporta’s election as president, his campaign as candidate, his relations with different groups, his plans for Barcelona and the first year as president of the club. 

We can read some excerpts from interviews with members of his board of directors. For example, the Vice-chairman of the Social Area, Alfons Godall is quoted saying: “We had all the financial information about the club from 1996. This enabled us to put together a very specific analysis which led us to the conclusion that sports and economic management were closely related. It is very important to have a clear policy for salaries and signings, as well as for bringing in players from the youth teams. In short, to run a club like Barça you have to have a model and we had been working on such a model.” 

This sounds very familiar to the “Zidanes y Pavones” slogan from Florentino. 

We have often heard words from Barça’s president such as “chollo”, “pelotazo”, etc… describing the model of Florentino Pérez in Real Madrid. Let’s review the corner stone of Laporta’s first project in Barcelona: “At the beginning of December 2003, FC Barcelona reached an agreement with La Caixa, a bank which was to front a syndicated credit for €151 million48 together with other entities such as Banco Sabadell, Caixa Catalonia, Banco Popular, Banesto, Caja Mediterráneo (CAM), Cajamar and Deutsche Bank. The transaction, which was spread over seven years, would make it possible for the current sports project to go ahead and for the sports centre in the Barcelona town of Sant Joan Despí to be completed.” 

Leaving aside the demagogy of Laporta, can anyone tell me difference in the model of either club? See the famous “virtuous circle” of Barcelona… 

FC Barcelona's "circulo virtuoso".


The answer “the difference is point number 2: Great sports results” is too easy…


Filed under Books, Sports