El Tri still does not have a head coach even after an announcement was expected before the weekend.
Here we are on Tuesday and the news is only getting murkier. However, this is business as usual for a Mexico Football Federation (FMF) that is frequently accused of being more about the green than the green-white-and-red.
It has been reported that the FMF is one of the top 10 wealthiest soccer federations in the world, yet El Tri can’t get to the fifth game in the World Cup. In Qatar 2022, Mexico stunningly failed to emerge from the group stage for the first time in 44 years.
So as fans moped about El Tri’s embarrassing performance while watching the remainder of the World Cup, they were “treated” to a plethora of commercials featuring Mexico’s “star players.” Evidence that the money was still rolling into the FMF coffers.
FMF under the microscope
The Team Mexico braintrust has been meeting at FMF HQ in Toluca, purportedly trying to figure out what went wrong while preparing to name a new coach, a process that continues to drag on.
- Rodrigo Ares de Parga was officially confirmed as CEO of Mexico’s national teams with Jaime Ordiales in charge of El Tri and Andrea Rodebaugh in charge of El Tri Femenil.
- Jaime Lozano was named interim Team Mexico manager as well as coach of the Under-23 squad.
- An Ownership Committed was established and is comprised of the following team owners: Alejandro Irraragorri (Santos Laguna/Atlas), Amaury Vergara (Chivas), Ernesto Tinajero (Necaxa), Jorge Alberto Hank (Tijuana/Querétaro) and Emilio Azcárraga (América). Grupo Pachuca owner Jesús Martínez (Pachuca/León) was invited to be a member but declined. They will oversee the development of all national teams and are directly involved in the selection of the next El Tri manager.
- The FMF will work harder to line up friendly matches with South American and European teams (as evidence of this, a game against Germany in October was announced), and it also confirmed that the Concacaf Nations League will be used to determined which four teams participate in next year’s Copa América.
Decision on El Tri coach still pending
After postponing the decision on who would be Gerardo Martino’s successor as Team Mexico manager, it was expected an announcement would be forthcoming Monday or Tuesday.
Heading into the weekend, three managers were on the short list – Guillermo Almada, Miguel Herrera and late addition Marcelo Bielsa. The inclusion of Bielsa at the last moment was what prompted the postponement and the legendary manager was immediately installed as the front-runner.
Then we learned from the “El Francotirador” column in Record that Bielsa’s salary demands were too rich for the FMF to consider and his candidacy was removed.
So, are we back to square one? Or will additional names be tossed in the El Tri hat? I suppose we’ll have to tune in next week (?) to find out.
Changes for Liga MX
Beyond the discussion about El Tri, the FMF also reported changes for its domestic league, some of which are designed to help Team Mexico. In particular, Liga MX clubs will see roster spots for foreign players restricted even further.
Beginning next season, teams will only be permitted to field 7 foreigners at the same time, the idea being that El Tri will benefit with the extra roster spots reserved for Mexican players.
The FMF reportedly considered re-establishing a minutes requirement for young players. Several seasons ago, teams were required to use U-20 players for a specific percentage of minutes (a very low percentage, admittedly) or face points deduction.
Other announcements related to Liga MX included:
- The wildcard round will be eliminated beginning next season, reducing playoff berths from 12 to 8.
- A decision on re-establishing demotion/promotion with the second division will be announced in May.
- Multi-team ownership will be prohibited beginning in 2024. At present, three ownership groups own two franchises.
- In addition to the trophies awarded to the Apertura and the Clausura playoff champions, the Liga MX will award a third trophy – to the team with the most combined points after the Apertura/Clausura seasons. It remains to be seen if participation trophies will be granted as well.
The FMF report also included a section related to exporting players to Europe with the intention of facilitating such transfers but neither the wording nor the explanation in the press conference made it clear how this was to take place.