The days when Sporting was considered a “nice little Portuguese club” are over. Since 2013, we are back! And this is actually a wrong way to put it: since the beginning of its existence, Sporting Clube de Portugal has never ceased to be. At the forefront of sports events, gathering a staggering number of trophies in all types of competitions, breaking world records, yet all these achievements are going unnoticed.
Why is that?
I don’t like to look at what other clubs are doing, because I believe Sporting in itself has enough arguments to exist through its own merit. But in order to understand the reasons behind this consensus in drowning every Lions’ successes whilst highlighting and making up every possible negative, one needs to understand Portuguese football. The scandal of the Golden whistle has paved the way for impunity. If Porto is still pointed for its love of fruits and coffee cream, another major club seems to have got inspired, though adding another ingredient: subtlety.
Since the reign of Luis Filipe Vieira has begun, it is impossible not to notice the shift in public opinions, spread by major sports papers. It is also impossible to ignore the controversies around refereeing. No more Fergie time, this is Vieira’s show in 4 steps!
Step 1: A Godfather is born
This president who has been socio of the three “Grandes” has been involved in major scandals, from drug deals to money laundering, theft, fraud and funds. You name it, he’s done it. Let me say that Vale e Azevedo is a rookie compared to this man. LFV uses Benfica as a cover to feed his businesses and fill his pockets with side activities that are not very legal... Ask his driver ;)
Step 2: Take over the press organs
Any good dictator knows that in order to reign over a state, it is necessary to acquire the press and public opinion. Once upon a time, each of the three main sports papers had an affinity: A Bola with Benfica, Record with Sporting and O Jogo with Porto. Nowadays, all three are publishing the same gossips and highlight the greatness of one and only club.
Step 3: Instil fear
Vieira is untouchable and Benfica unassailable. Don’t you dare ask where the club has found millions for average players such as Pizzi or Jimenez, always under the blessing of a powerful common denominator called Mendes. Crazy deals, loans, sales are succeeding each other without raising eyebrows. Silently but surely, his insidious campaign is paying off.
Step 4: Expand the territory
How did the Benfiquistas feel at the image of their president wearing a tie with the colours of Wolverhampton, assisting at their opening game of the season surrounded by Chinese investors and old friend Mendes? Maybe relieved for offloading dead wood Talisca & co in one only club. Atlético, Valencia, Wolves, Braga... The dynasty is growing.
If you ask me what this has got to do with Sporting... well, everything! Like I mentioned at the beginning, what was seen as a sympathetic club is now victim of a discrediting campaign from the press. The reason? After getting rid of presidents who were working relentlessly against the interests of Sporting, someone finally stepped up to mean business. His objectives don’t stop at putting Sporting back on the glory map, they also involve a full overhaul of Portuguese football, through a more transparent approach.
Of course, this isn’t to the taste of Mr Vieira who has zero interest to see funds disappear from football, those same funds that provide a perfect cover for money laundering.
Crimes may go unpunished, but people have a sharp memory. Sporting is rising up again and will soon expose the fallacy that is this so called “greatest club in Portugal”.
He who laughs last...