Against The Odds: Football in Venezuela


Venezuela’s economy, once so prosperous
and stable, is now in ruins. There has been no collapse more dramatic, more significant,
in the last 50 years, and it has brought with it political chaos, crippling inflation, crime
and poverty. “It’s really hard to think of a human
tragedy of this scale outside civil war,” Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at
Harvard University, told the New York Times in May. “This will be a touchstone of disastrous
policies for decades to come.” Venezuela, buoyed by large oil reserves and
a functioning democratic government, was once the richest country in Latin America. Now,
though, things are very different. The hyperinflation rate, in early August, reached an astonishing
10 million percent, and the country now owes $100 billion to foreign creditors. The crisis, according to most economists,
was set in motion by the reckless policies of Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo
Chávez. Opponents of Maduro, who assumed office in 2013 following the death of Chávez,
accuse him of squandering billions of dollars in oil revenue and allowing inflation to rise
and rise inexorably. Those who back Maduro blame strict sanctions
imposed by Donald Trump’s government, and economic boycotts by the country’s biggest
businesses. The collapse of the economy has led to increased political violence and an
alarming rise in homicides. And millions have fled the country to neighbouring Colombia. No industry nor aspect of daily life has gone
unscathed. And that includes football, which as been brought to its knees at lower levels
and even impacted at the very top, in the Primera División. Regular blackouts have
interrupted several high-profile games, and there is often a lack of electricity and basic
equipment. Players have often gone unpaid, too, which has meant an exodus of some of
the country’s best footballers to Europe and elsewhere. “It has affected football massively,”
Carlos Tarache, a sports journalist based in Venezuela,
told Tifo. “The simple fact that the development of our rising talents has been impeded has
had an impact on football’s growth in the country. But dreams are not held back by adversities,
and today Venezuela is enjoying its most prodigious generation of players in years, coincidentally
in one of the worst moments in its history.” Remarkably, Venezuela’s youth teams are
thriving. A talented generation of young footballers are coming through, battling against hardship
just to make a living. And supporters are responding, turning out in their thousands,
even with money made worthless, with food and drink increasingly hard to come by and
crime rampant. The outlook, for football in Venezuela, despite the turmoil, is surprisingly
positive. The problems, though, are unavoidable. In
March, a top flight game between Caracas FC and Zulia was a disrupted by a nationwide
power blackout. The game was scheduled to be played at night, so both clubs attempted
to rearrange the fixture for daylight hours. But the Venezuelan Football Federation refused
to move the kick off time, and Caracas and Zulia played out a 0-0 draw in protest. For that, both clubs were docked a point and
fined 360,000 bolivars, at the time the equivalent of around £40 due to the hyperinflation.
“I publicly express my outrage at the disrespectful manner in which the FVF has addressed us footballers,”
Caracas captain Rubert Quijad said in response to the punishment. “Venezuela had suffered a national blackout.
The lack of electric affected Zulia state. Our preparation was hindered and the conditions
to play the game were not there. The lack of electric, water, ice, and the risk of injury
and difficulty in being treated (`if injured) raised the risks. I demand respect and for
Venezuelan footballers to be granted dignity. Do not forget that before being footballers,
we are human beings.” Other clubs have been hit even harder, most
notably Primera División side Deportivo Anzoátegui, who in July were forced to fold their first
team because of insurmountable debt.. Those players unable to negotiate a move have been
left without a club and without a salary, at a time when money is scarce. “Let’s say that a Venezuelan footballer
who’s been playing for three or four years and is quite well-known can earn between US$300
and US$400 a month, while others earn $80 to $100,” said former Carabobo coach Wilson
Gutiérrez in a recent interview with El Espectador. “It is really not enough. There are even
some who get paid in bolivares and there are also delays in payment.” The situation is hardly ideal for young players
attempting to make their way in the game. But that does not appear to have held back
Venezuela’s Under-20s, who continue to impress on the international stage. Coached by Rafael
Dudamel, the team made it to the final of the 2017 Under-20s World Cup, losing to England,
and this year performed well at the South American Championship, beating the likes of
Chile, Brazil and Colombia. Football, over the last few years, has proved
a unifying force in Venezuela. Amid the political chaos, the debilitating inflation and poverty,
it has brought people together, if only for 90 minutes, and allowed them, briefly, to
forget. Distractions from the bleak reality are welcome. And, perhaps most importantly,
football has brought optimism. “It’s on an upward ascendancy and one
that I believe is unlikely to stop,” Jordan Florit, the author of an upcoming book on
Venezuelan football – Red Wine & Arepas: How Football is Becoming Venezuela’s Religion
– told Tifo. “England is a football nation – it plays cricket and rugby, too, obviously
– but it’s the people’s sport; New Zealand is a rugby nation, India is a cricketing nation,
and so on so forth. I think the general perception is still currently that Venezuela is a baseball
nation, but a national football team offers representation on an international stage like
no other sport and in recent years, as La Vinotinto has become a
source of pride for Venezuelans, it is slowly but surely usurping baseball.” There is much still to do to improve the infrastructure
of football in Venezuela, but that has been made increasingly difficult by the economic
situation. And there are few signs of an imminent solution. “The Federation and the League certainly
have to take some actions to secure the continuing development of Venezuelan football,” Carlos
Bustamante, a Venezuelan journalist based in London, told Tifo. “There are a lot of
clubs who have 50% of their shares owned by government institutions, making them dependent
on public funds that are increasingly in a deficit nowadays. “Despite all the problems, there still are
clubs committed and doing the right thing. Caracas FC and more recently Zulia FC have
done it, and both are representing the country in the Copa Sudamericana. The future of the
country is still unknown but with the necessary reforms, and following those examples, the
future of Venezuelan football can be better. But the changes must be focused entirely on
the structure of the organisations that rule football in Venezuela.” There is much to ponder domestically, and
there will likely be more clubs, more individuals adversely affected by the economic collapse
in the months to come. Internationally, though, the future looks refreshingly bright. The
target, for Venezuela is to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, by which time the country
may be on the road to recovery. “The 2020s should be the best decade in
La Vinotinto’s history,” says Florit. “Their supporters should be very excited.”

81 thoughts on “Against The Odds: Football in Venezuela

  1. What the hell……first of all u cut the power then u don't allow them to change timings and then u charge them a handsome amount for no reason at all ?

  2. As a Venezuelan, I can vouch that you guys have yet again done amazing research. Thank you for sharing our story and for painting it as it is, with its harsh reality yet our hopeful aspirations.

  3. Oh man, i just love your videos, now I love you more!! Freaking quality videos, unbelievable. Of course I'm from Venezuela living outside just made me proud watch this.

  4. Other leagues and clubs should pitch in and bring a team to their leagues and let the players play. imagine a team in the j league k league. stream it all over get the ad money and bring back the economy of the country.

  5. Sanctions are an act of war. The United States economic warfare on Venezuela has resulted in 40,000 deaths. I am no Maduro fan, but it's naive to blame the problems in Venezuela on "reckless policies." America will never let a socialist country become an economic powerhouse. If Venezuela is a success (their natural resources should make them one of the wealthiest countries in the world), it would demonstrate that there is an alternative to the savage capitalism practiced in the US. America's ongoing war with Venezuela is an act of the ruling elite trying preserve what little power they have left. Socialism will win. Our only choices moving forward are socialism or barbarism. The fascists have already chosen the latter.

  6. Another quality video, but can you answer the most perplexing football question of all time, why do the US Men’s National side perform so poorly?

  7. Great video as always, any minute now well fed Western leftists will arrive to lecture us all including the Venezuelans on how it is all the American imperialists fault and Chavez/Maduro are the good guys that the average Venezuelan has to line up for 8 hours at a store for a bag of rice (true story from many Venezuelans I have met)

  8. another sensational video by tifo that has diverted my attention to an event that i had no idea that had happened. After watching this video i really hope Venezuela make the 2022 world cup. like if u agree.

  9. Los venezolanos deben luchar en su pais, es una carga para sudamerica están dando mas problemas en Perú chile ecuador colombia es una pandemia

  10. I'm just happy that this channel took the time to do all the research for this video.

    When I was in college, my final project was about how important La vinotinto became to the nation after their 4th place in the 2011's Copa América.

    They probed to be an mass media phenomenom and gained the interest of almost everybody.

    Now they became a social phenomenom. A team full of players that just want to make all the venezuelan people forget the crisis, even if it is just for 90 minutes.

  11. Venezuela has never been viewed as a football-loving country. They haven't even qualified for the World Cup in their history.

  12. it would be good if other football communities help these type of football leagues who are in need by donating some money to improve.

  13. Had to stop after 40 seconds when he claimed that Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America under the previous "democratic" government, I usually love these videos but this is straight out of the CIA's playbook.

  14. What I like about football (as a sport) is that it allows people to forget real-life troubles. It has the power to do what other sports only try to do.

  15. i some questions and hope some venezuelan knows the subject, with this "crisis" since time ago, how is a professional football league and a federation still "alive", if players aren't payed…how is it possible they still alive if they aren´t payed and jobs are lacking for prepared people were does players get money to survive? How are teams still able to travel and play Libertadores? if players arent payed, why they still bringing players? How is a federation and clubs still alive with no revenue? (revenue which comes from TV rights, sponsors, etc), cause 1st Venezuela isn´t the only country with bad economy, 2nd Venezuela isn´t the only country with poverty, 3rd Venezuela isn´t the only country with a bad government, 4th Venezuela isn´t the only country with high crime indexes, 5th lots of countries would love to have the infrastructure Venezuelan league has.

  16. I remember watching u20 world cup in 2017 venezuela really suprised me before the tournament i knew only 2 of their players but thruought the tournament i saw them beating the likes of mexico and germany.
    I remember waking up in like 10:00 am just to watch them against uruguay when i thought that the journey is going to end but a 90+ goal and then win on penalties was very pleasing to watch.
    Players like herrera,Farinez,Cordova,Pena,Soteldo,Sosa and of course Penaranda are now all playing for big clubs across the world and i can say they deserve it.
    Greetings from europe venezuela!

  17. It is well known that the government expenses were way too high and Maduro printed money to fix it. Hyperinflation does not occur from international trade policy of any country, it cannot be blamed on trump at all

  18. You should cover the USA sanctions against Venezuela more it's the main problem. But you did have a war criminal on the show

  19. Zamora and Deportivo Lara had to play 2 games in the same day because FVF don't reschedule matches from the venezuelan League

  20. I usually love these videos, but this very much adheres to the warped western view of venezuela when in fact this economic turmoil was mostly artificially created by those who cannot tolerate socialism being a success and look to humiliate it.

  21. Anti Chavez propaganda on tifo why?
    Chavez have done more for poor people in Venezuela than the previous government….
    The claim that before Chavez the Venezuela people and the country was"rich" is a lie…..

  22. Hate to see so many commies on the comments. I hope you once get a bit of what socialism does to you. Once again thank you tifo to adress what happens to us Venezuelans ❤

  23. Watch the film “Hermano”. It is about 2 boys trying to make it professional in Venezuela. Great film, you can watch it on YouTube, well I did at least.

  24. Obviously football will be affected by the disastrous economy. The fans are everything in football. The pros eat good food and sleep in golden beds because of us, the fans. If the people of Venezuela do not have a good source of income obviously the football clubs will suffer the same fate. The people are the lifeline of football around the world.

    I hope Venezuela recovers fast and I wish the people of Venezuela the best.

  25. Would love to see a video about the rise and fall of Scottish football partly due to the contrasting opinions on television licensing back in the 70s/80s

  26. Also, there have been young 13, 14 up until 18 year old footballers murdered due to the high insecurity and the club don't give any sort of compensation to the families of the footballers, that also happen with established professionals. Also, there have been many reported cases of referees going to stadiums with borrowed shoes and on hitchhiking because they don't have private transportation, also they get assaulted outside stadiums. And both of this scenarios happen to many fans who go to and watch this games in critical conditions.

  27. when you send your country spiraling into insurmountable debt, so you blame Trump.
    lmao never change, liberals 😂

  28. This is just imperialist propaganda extremely disappointing although what do you expect from the people who have interviewed Alistair Campbell the war criminal and have advertised the economist which as Lenin said is “a journal which speaks for British millionaires”.

  29. I like the optimism and all(I'm Venezuelan) and we can definitely make it to basically every world cup from now on if the format stays the same, but I'm not optimistic at all, this guys that made it to the u20 final are terrific player but are being neglected, they won't let peñaranda play a match, and guys like Soteldo and Fariñez haven't left south America.

    Besides that every single person in the country lives in fear that one day the people who you love are no more, not the best climate to play a sport.

  30. So Venezuela football got better in spite of the current situation & no investment pre crisis, interesting.
    No mention of Venezuela pre Chavez. US interference pre Trump & historically in Venezuela, private ownership & anti Maduro factions 🤔
    If you're going to be political at least try & give a more complete picture.

  31. This is what happens when you apply socialism on steroids to an economy which is not post industrialized. It is not as much as socialism's fault but where and in which manner and how much has it been applied

    Sweden can afford to be more socialistic because it is a post industrialized nation with rule of law, a prosperous middle class and, a working economy that generates and redistributes wealth. Till these prerequisites are met, don't touch socialism. That would be akin to trying to graduate from a university when you have not finished high school.

    Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Ireland and New Zealand are models of success where capitalism created wealth and a prosperous middle class. Venezuela will not get there with a socialistic mind set. Its economy, it's football, everything will suffer.

  32. Hey Tifo, you have one of the biggest, deepest and most high profile scandals in football governance happening right on your doorstep with the FAI. The way the FAI and League of Ireland interact and, despite being the same organization since the early 2000s, the way they actively try to hurt each other has only been compounded by the massive corruption scandal and attempts to repress journalism this year by the FAI. Look into it, it’s been building since the 90s

  33. Venezuelan here, extremely proud of la vinotinto and just hoping we will be able to make it to the world cup, great video

  34. As a Venezuelan, I'm very glad to see one of your videos talking about La Vinotinto. Thank you for such a well researched video.

  35. Great video! La Vinotinto is a symbol of hope and joy for a country where even those feelings are scarce!… Follow what Soteldo is doing in Brazil his stats are crazy. El pequeño gigante

  36. Funny, Trump was never President of Venezuela the country was in massive trouble before 2014. Socialism failed Venezuela, polices their own government implemented took them down the path they are on now. Not Trump, not America, Socialism.

  37. As a venezuelan and regular tifo watcher I congratulate you guys from the bottom of my soul. Thanks for giving the football world such an insight to the situation my country is going through, thus showing how our football has risen in the face of adversity. 🇻🇪🇻🇪🇻🇪🇻🇪🇻🇪

  38. You guys should do a video on Mexican team “Chivas de Guadalajara” and their strict policy of Mexican-born players only similar to Athletic Bilbao’s

  39. Thanks for covering Tifo! As a Venezuelan it means a lot to know someone still cares about us and wants to share what's happening. I left years ago but hope to return. Hopefully la Vinotinto can reach a World Cup, it would be a bright light in an otherwise dark country.

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