Away from the spotlight Rubiales and the players, the coach has become the leader and spokesperson of a Federation that is praying for his continuity. Today he is looking to qualify for the Final Four against Portugal.
There is a curious phenomenon in football communication. For some time now, it is very difficult to see presidents (Florentino Pérez, Joan Laporta, Miguel Ángel Gil, etc.) talking to the media, let alone giving interviews. At the same time, the exposure of the footballers has also been declining, and the boys are much more open to the use of new languages than to answering a battery of more or less compromising questions. As a result, coaches have become, in a way, the spokespersons of the clubs, and it is from them that an opinion is expected not only on what concerns the team itself, but also on questions about the functioning of the club itself or, in many other cases, about current affairs. In the case of the national team, this trend has been accentuated in recent years. But with nuances.
For example, Luis Rubiales does not usually speak at the national federation either, although this was not always the case. After a start to his mandate in which he responded publicly to all attacks, his communication advisors have convinced him to keep his exposure small and controlled. Moreover, a few months ago he hired a spokesperson to say what he does not want to say and in the way he cannot say it.
On the players’ side, it turns out that Las Rozas is now almost the only place where players are allowed to respond to journalists in one-to-one interviews, although the low profile of the vast majority of them, and the refusals of the stars (once Sergio Ramos, now Sergio Busquets) result in a situation identical to that of the clubs: the coach is the unofficial spokesman for the Federation, and in this case, the role comes to accentuate the main role played by Luis Enrique since 2018, a role underlined after reaching the Euro semi-finals: the Asturian is the undisputed leader of the national team. … and of the Federation.
For example, no one has objected to his latest idea, which was to buy a communications system so that he can use a walkie-talkie to talk to the players while they train, using microphones installed in their chaps. Nor was there any qualms about buying a giant screen and mounting it under the now famous scaffolding that he uses to direct the training sessions at the training camp last March.
Nor has anyone, not even in Human Resources, said a word when he has decided to do without some of his assistants (José Manuel Ochotorena, José Sambade, Jesús Casas…). Everything Luis Enrique does is well done, and to a certain extent, all the Federation’s bodies, beyond the pitch, have confidence in him.
For example, it was he who publicly defended Rubiales when the reports in El Confidencial began. “It is impossible to live away from the public bashing of the president. From here, I want to show my confidence in him. I am not only basing this on the fact that I know the president and his way of acting. As an assembly member, I confirm that the Federation has the highest standards of transparency and there is a spectacular management”, were his words on 23 May last.
That is why these days in Las Rozas they have continued to scrutinise him to see if he will continue or not after the World Cup. Nobody dares to say one way or the other. “We’ll talk about it after the tournament”, they insist in the Federation, where everyone is praying that he decides to continue, because the project, with a president who is constantly questioned (and whose government umbrella nobody knows how long it will last), and with unknown players, only has him to guarantee a minimum of attention.