Believe Big: Inside the Conmebol Sports Summit with Alejandro Dominguez

Believe Big: Inside the Conmebol Sports Summit with Alejandro Dominguez

06/17/2024 11:45 a.m. Updated on 06/17/2024 1:34 p.m.

The person in charge of kicking off the Olé Sports Summit in Miami, on the eve of the start of the Copa América, it was none other than Alejandro Dominguez. The president of Conmebol, the highest football authority in South America, opened this congress of the king of this continent’s sport. And he did it with a warning about what is coming: “This Copa América will be the most competitive in history. If someone asks me which team is the favorite, I couldn’t say which one because it will be an extremely competitive Cup. Expect very high-tension matches.”

The strongest man in South American football referred to the success of this Cup that will begin this Thursday with the debut of the Argentine National Team against Canada. “More than a million tickets have been sold and even more will be sold. Conmebol is the confederation in the world that reinvests the most its income. 95% of what is collected is reinvested. The remaining 5% is to pay the corresponding taxes. Last December there were 59 teams on the continent that were reinvesting in their stadiums, in the playing fields, in comfort, in security… Because we want to have good football, to play better ball. We want the fans’ experience to change when they have the opportunity to go to a game. I went to football because my father took me but the world changed. We have to change comfort, security… We must focus on good quality football, sporting justice… Football is controversial, we know it. But this is one brick at a time and gaining everyone’s trust. The unique final of the Libertadores or the Sudamericana reaches more than 100 countries live today. When we took over Conmebol in 2016 it did not even reach 40 countries…”

The chicane to European football

Domínguez took out a badge with the ten World Cups that South American football holds, although they are two less than those in Europe (four Germany, four Italy, two France, one Spain and one England). “Brazil is five plus the three from Argentina and the two from Uruguay… Although there are two others that still… We are giving the Europeans that chance to have two more because if not, it is very easy.” He said it in reference to those two stars that Uruguay demands for having won the 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games, when the World Cups did not yet exist, but they had the character of world cups.

The commitment to women’s football

Domínguez expressed what the objective that Conmebol set for itself is for the coming years. “The biggest challenge is to put women’s football on par with men’s football. That’s why we bring the World Cup to South America, to Brazil. In the men’s field we have high competitiveness, it is clear. In the women’s field we know how to recognize that in Concacaf they have very good competitiveness. “What we want is that, to increase competition.”

The president of the highest body of South American football added: “Until the early 90s, in most South American countries it was prohibited by law for women to play football. It was a decision of the governments, not of the football organization. Since that changed, it allows us to reinvest the total income directly into football.”

The Conmebol slogan

“Believe big” became the phrase that embodies the thinking of Conmebol. And Domínguez told a little about the origin of said slogan: “It is inspired by the history of South American soccer. Most of our players came out of adversity because they believed big, in surpassing themselves, because they never saw the limitations. When you see other parts of the In a world where societies are more developed and logistics are more advanced, it is clear that there is access to greater facilities. In our case it is the other way around. Soccer is played imaginary, it is played here like in the street, on a cobblestone, on the street. sand… The ball can be a sock, a soda bottle… the arches made up of two sneakers or bicycles… the stripes can be imaginary and not to mention the offsides. Telling all this, we don’t think about what phrase. would inspire us in the future but what phrase describes South American football, the DNA of South American football and what drives this organization to redirect its objective. To believe big is to say again “let’s go back to the old path”, to that formula that made South American football achieve so many things at the level of clubs, national teams, players, coaches, referees, players and fans… Thinking about them is that This phrase is once again inserted into the strategic policy of Conmebol. Believing big is that we are still in the face of adversity. South America as logistics, as a field, as competitiveness, still has to continue growing. In terms of generating income, having quintupled our income is a very good start. “In fact, there is no precedent in the world of growth as great as that which Conmebol had in the last eight years.”

From his assumption to growth with Covid in the middle and the recovery of money from South American football

Domínguez briefly reviewed these eight years of his mandate at the head of Conmebol. “Time passes and you stop remembering how difficult it was. At the beginning in 2016, Conmebol was morally, economically and financially bankrupt. The good thing is that I didn’t tell it so there wouldn’t be any panic. So the championships continued, the Centenario Cup was celebrated that year here… There was no money, it was done day by day. It was a very hard fight. It is true that there were leaders who were imprisoned but that did not mean that the money was available. Recovering money is much more difficult. We continue trying because we did a forensic audit, we collaborated with American and Swiss justice… From there more than 200 million were returned to FIFA and of that money, 70 million were from Conmebol. In a private legal agreement, we recovered another 57 million from two former leaders. That is, 70 plus 57. We are the only confederation that recovered money. And it is important because when Covid hit us, if we had not done that to recover that money we would not have been able to assist the federations as we assisted them. We were the confederation that acted the fastest. Never in history has South American football stopped. And it was for the first time that we stopped football and from that same day we started working on our return. And we did it safely. We obtained our own batches of vaccine, a protocol so that it would be approved in all countries… The matches were finished, the sponsors pay as long as you comply and we comply, with the addition of an economic aid of 98 million Dollars. Football is not about money but about spreading the sport, good values, generating competition, generating opportunity and the rest comes as a consequence. When we arrived at Conmebol, the goal was soccer. And today it is so commercialized that we can have record income and reinvestment. “We are going to distribute 400 million dollars in all our competitions.”

Domínguez at the Olé Sports Summit.

Conmebol continues its fight to recover money from South American football. Both the Swiss and US courts ordered the restitution of funds that had been diverted to the private accounts of former leaders. However, similar legal actions carried out in Paraguay are stalled.despite evidence of criminal responsibilities and the identification of banks involved in alleged money laundering operations.

For this reason, Conmebol is promoting a complaint in Paraguay for alleged money laundering involving the former president of the institution, Nicolás Leoz, and Banco Atlas SA. However, despite the fact that seven years have passed since the first complaint and three since the second, there has been no significant progress.

The stagnation of the criminal case occurs despite the existence of well-documented evidence that reveals that Banco Atlas established two trusts for around USD 6,000,000 in the name of Nicolás Leoz, when there was already an international arrest warrant and an extradition request from the North American Justice Department. Leoz was also under house arrest at the time of the operation. On the other hand, Banco Atlas SA provided false information to the Prosecutor’s Office in June 2018, since in the profile assigned to Leoz in March 2013 he was described as “pas president of the CSF”, when at that time he was fully exercising the ownership of CONMEBOL.

The Conmebol has presented two requests for the Public Ministry to rule on this case. The President of the Confederation, Alejandro Domínguez, met personally with the attorney general, Emiliano Rolón Fernández, to express his concern about the suspension of the case.

Domínguez “fans”

Outside of his role as a leader, the president of Conmebol was encouraged to talk more relaxed about his fan side. “I’m from Olimpia. I watch a lot of football and I love it. It depends on who plays, I enjoy it. When there are Libertadores and Sudamericana matches, I watch a lot but I focus too much on the refereeing and sometimes I miss the show. The only Conmebol team are the referees so I want everything to go well. And regarding his football tastes, he explained: “I am of the theory that first you have to take care of the zero. First the zero in your own goal and then think about the rival goal. I must admit that I don’t like pretty football but rather effective football. I like it gain. I don’t like telling stories. “If my team scores a goal in the 10th minute or 30 seconds, I will be waiting to defend to the death throughout the game.”

2024-06-17 16:12:28
#Domínguez #competitive #Copa #América #history #Olé


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