Marcelo Bielsa, also nicknamed as “El Loco”, is a football legend, who inspired many coaches, like Pep Guardiola, with his tactical knowledge. Apart from being a very good coach, Bielsa is also very knowledgeable about the sociopolitical aspect of football.
In one of his few interviews he stated, “Football is the first topic in the world. And it has a peculiarity, the favorite does not always win, the underdog has the chance to win too. That is why it is the most popular sport in the world. For me, the fan is irreplaceable, he/she is full of emotion.”
“When I was in Mexico, I met an exile Basque. The man said that exile takes you away from your place, it is very painful. One day, I asked him what he thought was most important in a man’s life and he replied: “To be loved unconditionally”. The fan is exactly like this: He loves the club without any reward. I had heard a phrase in Seville and at first I found it difficult to understand: “I love you even if you win.” It is the denial of reward, victory, so that emotional bonding becomes stronger. Even victory does not count, I love you without earning anything.”
“The fan is the healthy part of football, he can still have strong feelings and the football industry has put it aside for the shake of profit.”
“So what’s the solution for that? The answer is simple, emotion, the emotion that the fan feels. Everyday I try to evoke intense and positive feelings to my players. If the players have the responsibility to offer emotion to others, then they must feel it first. That is the paradox: to be a good professional you must be inspired by the spirit of the amateur.”
During this interview Marcelo Bielsa was asked what’s the reason behind his decision to coach teams in Europe instead of coaching teams in Latin America like he used too. His reply was enlightening.
“In Latin America, players and coaches care for individual performance and distinction, on the other hand in Europe the sport is based on team play, so I came to work here. Success in a team comes when everybody is ready to defend the weakest individual in every moment. If everyone knows that they must concentrate their efforts on protecting the most weak among them, if they are ready to be sacrificed for it, then the team is born and it is unbeatable, at least psychologically. The protection of the weak becomes a strategy and the feeling multiplies the strength of this team.”
“Nowadays, it’s very difficult to teach this mentality. Footballers do not learn this, the only thing that they learn is how to be better individually. Society today tells us the opposite, that the weak or the poor is the problem. We say that society rejects the immigrants, the different, the blacks, the Muslims, but this is not true, the problem is our fear of poverty. If the stranger is a wealthy Chinese or has petrodollars, then he is not the problem and he does not scare us. In soccer is the same, the weak becomes the problem, the best is the most well paid. I believe that the best and most talented footballers should not have a more favorable treatment, but more responsibilities.”
Marcelo Bielsa does not give many interviews, but when he does, he says things that make you thing about everything around you. The world that we live in does not need more management and marketing professionals, the world needs idealists with values and beliefs, like Marcelo Bielsa.