It looks like Venezuela might be without a fútbol team for the remainder of CONMEBOL qualifiers, barring the replacement of national team coaches and federation officials in a timely manner.
The following open letter – addressed to Federación Venezolana de Fútbol officials – was sent out via social media yesterday by players like West Brom striker Salomón Rondón and Genoa midfielder Tomás Rincón, whose Twitter bio reads “Vinotinto de corazón y para siempre.”
The letter is signed by fifteen members of the Venezuelan national team, angered and saddened by the corruption-tainted leadership of their country’s soccer federation. It starts by stating the following: “We accept criticism of our performances with the national team and as a team take responsibility for these results. But in no way do we accept the declarations from FVF President Laureano González – given in an interview with Diario Lider on November 25, 2015 – asserting that we are ‘preparing a movement to get the national team coach out.’ These declarations are totally false and violate our honor and reputation…We are upset and disillusioned by the lack of support from the national team’s coaching staff over these accusations.”
González – the interim president who Vinotinto players have accused of mistreatment and slander – took over after long-standing President Rafael Esquivel was arrested in Switzerland as a part of the FBI’s probe into FIFA corruption (#FIFAGate). Clearly, things haven’t gotten much better since Esquivel’s departure.
The letter goes on to state that the players “are no longer in agreement that this group of leaders of the FVF should continue, as the way that they have treated [Venezuelan players], and the way that they have directed the project of taking the national team to the World Cup are unacceptable…We can’t continue [playing] in an environment that has been damaged by such leaders.” Also, they will donate the earnings they’re owed from this season to a yet-to-be-created foundation intended to support youth and develop soccer schools in Venezuela.
Damn. Here’s to hoping that Venezuela can put together a squad for their trip to Peru in March!