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11 / 06 / 2004
For Jorge Valdano “We must promote football by keeping off the grass and not trampling on ethics”

According to the coach of the Real Madrid club we “need to get used to a bipolar world in football.” Hein Verbruggen, president of the International Cycling Union has asked whether “sport has already sold its soul to the devil.”

According to Jorge Valdano, “the coach of Real Madrid until today”, as he defined himself during the Forum dialogue on “Sport as a Universal Dialogue”, “we need to get used to bipolarity in football: one that is played on the field and preserves the spirit of sport, and another one which is out in the market and is influenced by it.” In this respect Valdano said that “we must promote football by keeping off the grass and not trampling on ethics.”

Valdano explained that he has been “in all fields of the footballistic activity” and recognized that the miracle of football “is its capacity to adapt to the realities of the most diverse countries and places.” He stated that football plays a role in the struggle for life and provided the example of Maradona. “Poverty is linked to football, since no human planification or technologic development can produce such a phenomenon as Maradona.”

For his part, Hein Verbruggen, the president of the International Cycling Union criticized the current market-driven trend in sport and said that “it is time to ask ourselves if we have sold the soul of sport to the devil.”

In this morning’s plenary, focused on the sustainability of sport with the question “Is Present Day Sport a Sustainable Activity?” Verbruggen stated that “television and international sports associations work together to promote sport, but each one defends their own interest, and this is negative for sport.” In Verbruggen’s words, “it is an anti natural relationship, in which television seeks to present sport as a spectacle while the sports associations seek to preserve ethical values.”

For Klaus Heinemann, distinguished professor of the University of Hamburg, the problem of sport is directly related with the power imbalances in the world. He pointed out that 65% of European countries take part in world sports events, while only 40% of Latin American countries take part, and a mere 6% of countries of Africa participate.

In his opinion, there are two ethical principles which can not be violated in sport: in the first place, dignity and the respect for sports values, and in the second place, equal opportunities for all. In this respect he referred to the enormous technologic gap that exists between countries and to “technologic doping” and the growing divide between high performance sports people and plain citizens that do sport.