32-year-old Chivas owner Amaury Vergara was interviewed recently by Marca Claro, where he was asked an array of questions, all geared towards his club becoming an international sensation. This thanks to Marca Claro and Claro Sports partnering with the Mexican club for streaming purposes. All of Chivas’ home matches will be streamed on Marca.com and Marca Claro in Europe, as well as on Claro Sports, reaching their South American audience.
And while this is indeed a great deal and one that is certain to project Guadalajara on a much further international scale, that doesn’t change the truth about their failure to uphold their “big team” status in recent decades. The fact that their games will be streamed in other continents speaks volumes, but for people to actually be interested in following the club, there must be victories, deep playoff runs, and important accomplishments. Chivas have failed to garner either of the three in the past two decades on a consistent basis, which is the general time frame since the Vergara family took over the all-Mexican player club (October 2002).
During the interview, Vergara mentioned important points, such as making alliances with European clubs so his players can be sent over to be formed and prepared, and can then be called back once they’re ready to debut at the higher levels. He also believes this is the first step for other Mexican clubs to follow the lead, as this model can provide young players with training, formation, and mental toughness that they will probably never have access to in Mexico. There is no doubt Chivas have innovated and created a very appealing business model with this new deal with European clubs.
But, as many controversial things the Vergara family have said and done in the past, this interview was no expection. The controversial point in the conversation came when asked about a European club model they were looking to emulate to expand on an international level. First off, he started by comparing his club to Athletic Bilbao because of them only playing ´Vascos’, which makes sense considering Chivas field only Mexicans. Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there; he went on to say: “We have many things in common with Barcelona; there are similarities in style of play, in the essence of how we want our teams built, with homegrown players and stars, Our hope is that many players play out their career in Chivas. Because of that we’re similar to Barca.”
While Vergara didn’t mention any other ways his club is “similar” to one of the most successful sports club in general in history, it was still out of place in my point of view to compare. One thing is if he would’ve said they use them as a model, such as how the question was asked. But instead of staying that lane, he crossed over into a lane which is definitely not his and made an attempt to compare a team who has been near relegation spots for the past years to one of the top sports organizations in the world.
Since the Vergara family have been sole owners of the club, Chivas have been proclaimed league champions only twice - Apertura 2006 and Clausura 2017 - in 18 years (36 seasons). They were also the title winners of the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League. It would be unfair to exclude the two Copa MX titles they obtained in the Apertura 2015 and Clausura 2017 editions, but everyone knows that tournament doesn’t mean much and isn’t considered nearly as high an accomplishment as the other two. In summary, three main titles in 18 years.
In that same time frame, Barceloa have won 10 league titles, 6 Copa del Rey titles, 4 UEFA Champions Leagues, and 3 Club World Cups. All this done competing against the greatest soccer players in the world. An absolute overwhelming difference between the two, and in no way do they belong not only in the same sentence, but not even in the same paragraph.
Any club can compare themselves to Barcelona by mentioning their intentions with the formation of homegrown players. Pachuca is a club who could easily say that as well in that case. Even Querétaro grew important players who have been disdtributed around the league. That doesn’t make it true. But to mention their style of play. Really? Do Chivas really pass the ball around and attack to the likes of Messi and company? Do they overwhelm their opponents and dominate ball possession? I think not. While they do always look to attack no matter what stadium they play in, there is no style of play comparisons possible here.
Relying on being one of the most followed clubs in Mexico and having the biggest fanbase along with attempting to use your youth academy players as the team backbone, and using that as justification to compare your club to one of the top clubs in the entire sports world is flat out laughable. There is a lot more to take into consideration before declaring something like that.
One can always dream, and who is to say that Chivas can’t one day become the equivalent of a Barcelona in Mexico? They already proved they could do it 60-70 years ago. But it’s simply a fact that they are VERY far from it today. And while the business model Vergara has put in place is truly admirable, the comparison he made about his club is truly not.