“I would have liked some gesture from the National Team in Qatar”

José Manuel Franco (A Pobra do Brollón, Lugo, 65 years old)who has held the presidency of the Higher Sports Council since March 31, 2021, has managed to carry out the long-awaited Sports Law. Relieved and satisfied, he reviews with AS what the year has left behind and what is on the horizon: the Paris Games in 2024, Spain’s candidacy for the World Cup…

-Last week they finally got the approval of the new Sports Law. A year had passed since he left the Council of Ministers. Has it been a difficult birth?

-Yes, but since it was so necessary, we fought hard to achieve it. We talk to federations, clubs, associations… and when you do that healthy exercise, the process always takes longer. It was worth it. From the previous 1990 to today, society has changed a lot. With humility, we are proud. In addition, the European Union required us to approve it before January 1 to receive the funds (Recovery, more than 140 million euros).

-The axis of the Law is equality. Are we that bad? What are we going to improve?

-Our society is fine compared to other countries, but there were improvements that did not reach sport. It was not acceptable that an athlete, due to the fact of becoming pregnant, lost rights such as participating in an assembly of her federation. It’s about correcting the big differences. Now, each federation or professional club must carry out a protocol to avoid abuse and discrimination of a sexual nature. Federations must also issue an annual report. We promote equality of prizes and in terms of visibility in the media. Women must participate equally with men in any competition. Furthermore, it is the most inclusive law in the European Union.

-How are you going to achieve equal visibility in sport?

-In the public media it is simple and it will be achieved. In private, we try to promote it. We cannot force.

-Yes, equal prizes are required. In certain sports such as football, basketball or cycling it can be difficult. There is a huge gap between budgets and what they generate.

-We are not delusional. Today, in some sports it is impossible because it is true that the men’s competition generates much more money. It is about moving forward, mentalizing everyone to one day reach real equality. In all competitions organized with public money, they will be forced to receive the same prizes, and equal bonuses.

“Reaching the 22 medals of Barcelona 1992 in Paris is possible”

Jose Manuel Franco

– Has the access of women to positions of responsibility and boards of directors in federations and leagues improved? There must be 40%… Is positive discrimination essential?

-Completely. We already achieved 40% by demanding that it be reached in order to receive the public subsidy. Equality must be guaranteed in practice and in governing bodies.

-In a low voice, there are federations that complain that it is impossible to comply with it. That there are no willing women. Isn’t the obligation a bit ‘unnatural’ in some cases?

-Yes, but if equality is not promoted from the administration, we will never achieve it. Real equality enriches management.

The Secretary of State for Sport, this Tuesday at the Madrid High Performance Center.


The Secretary of State for Sport, this Tuesday at the Madrid High Performance Center.DANIEL SANCHEZACE DAILY

-How does the participation of trans people fit into sport? Due to the ‘Trans Law’ approved days ago and in a reductionist exercise, A man could register in a women’s competition just for feeling like a woman… Criticism from feminist groups has been enormous. Do you foresee conflicts in this regard?

-No, because I do not see an avalanche of men or women who change their sex and want to access the sport. In the cases that occur, it will be necessary to abide by the medical and scientific criteria established by each international federation.

-The World Cup has just closed in Qatar. Did you miss any gesture from the National Team and the Federation regarding respect for human rights and the LGTBIQ collective? Other countries did.

-Yes, honestly. But that corresponded to the Spanish Federation and the players. What does not take away for him to come twice to support our team.

-The Law also encourages the integration of athletes with different abilities in the federations. Would you have to go to a merger between the Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

-We are going to go step by step… One of the aspects that I feel most proud of in the CSD is to have organized the first Inclusive Games in which Olympians and Paralympians participated together. It is a path that must be followed with conviction and Spain is a pioneer in inclusion.

-Football, more specifically LaLiga, almost went on strike for some articles of the Law. How was it resolved?

-Being impartial and seeking to favor that the great beneficiary of the Law was sport in general, fleeing from particular requests. Leaving everyone moderately satisfied.

-Are you very tired of the brawl between LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation? It seems that he did not want to get too involved in there, where other secretaries of state ended up burning…

-Spanish football is unstoppable and without conflicts, it would enjoy even better health. But, commonly said, with these oxen we have to plow and I will continue to make balanced decisions. It must be recognized that football provides us with many resources (through 2.5% of the audiovisual rights of LaLiga) of those who live other sports. You have to be very grateful to them.

“We will never see the Soccer Team competing against Euskadi or Catalonia”

Jose Manuel Franco

-The money comes from a part of the audiovisual rights of LaLiga football. Doesn’t that great dependency scare you?

-Well… It has also been seen that where money does not arrive, as has happened with the ADO, government money will arrive so that athletes do not lack for anything. The commitment to sport is historic. We had committed to investing 1,000 million euros between 2020 and 2023, and with this year’s budgets we have already reached 1,100. It is an overwhelming bet. And money also comes from private companies that know that sport sells very well.

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Does the ADO exist or does it no longer exist? In the previous cycle, of every 10 euros, 7 were put by the CSD…

-It exists, it exists. And in the coming weeks we are going to try to revitalize it because we are going to have various meetings with companies. It is desirable that we get the ADO back on its feet, but in the face of any eventuality, the athletes will not be helpless.

Let’s go with the budgets. According to data from the CSD, by 2023 375 million will be allocated to sport, the largest amount in history (19.5% more). In 2022 there were 315 (+25%). Should we be facing the second great leap in Spanish sport?

-We are in condition. This year has been of an almost unknown level of success, thanks to the athletes, coaches and federations. We are at the right time to take another great leap. The aspiration to repeat Barcelona’s 22 medals in Paris 2024 is possible. And a part of the investment goes to the Team Spain program (48 million in the cycle), for Olympic and Paralympic sports and also strategic ones. Paris must be a historical landmark as Barcelona was. (In Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, Spain won 17 medals).

-Going back to the Law, it was going to be a consensus text but everything went wrong with the inclusion of article 48.2 by which Communities such as the Basque or Catalan may request to “participate directly in the international arena” in the case of “sports modalities or specialties with historical and social roots”. Why was that section introduced in October? Honestly, it seems like a consideration for the support of the PNV to the budgets.

-It’s not exactly like that. This also affects, for example, the Valencian pilota… It obeys the Government’s desire to open up popular sports to areas of competition that could be closed to them. Many premises must be met: historical roots, that the international federations allow it, that the CSD give its approval, that the Spanish federations did not exist at the time that this sport emerged in the autonomous community… Let’s flee from sensationalism and apocalyptic visions . We will never see a Spanish soccer team competing against the Basque Country or Catalonia in a World Cup. That will never happen.

José Manuel Franco, in his office, during the interview with AS.


José Manuel Franco, in his office, during the interview with AS.DANIEL SANCHEZACE DAILY

-They have invested a lot of money in women’s football. What happens if the number of spectators in the stadiums does not increase beyond those days in which they seek records?

-It is true that the records in specific matches should not distance us from reality. But it has been a commitment to a sport that deserved an exercise in dignity. You could not allow them to play in pitiful facilities, sometimes almost third world. And we wanted it to be the locomotive that dragged the professionalization of other women’s sports. The number of spectators, in any case, has increased. The road has been difficult and we have had to mediate even in things like the rights to exploit the ball or the referees. We invested 16 million in facilities, five in the F League, a million and a half for independent clubs… We have put everything on our side, but a closer rapprochement between the positions of the RFEF and the F League is also essential.

-Is it understandable that Alexia Putellas, double Ballon d’Or, may not be on a list for the World Cup along with other of the best? How can this conflict be resolved?

It would be difficult to understand. Ideally, the best should go to the World Cup, Alexia Putellas and one of those 15 who promptly gave up a call… Not forever. And the Federation did not sanction them. There is a path that must be taken. If they ask us to mediate, we will.

“It would be difficult to understand that Alexia Putellas was not in the World Cup”

Jose Manuel Franco

-What do you think of the award of the European Union lawyer on the Super League?

-He came to say something similar to what we defended: that some aspects of the Champions League would have to be reformed to improve interest, but within the structure of UEFA. I could not agree with what goes to the detriment of the national competition and to the detriment of the quarries.

-In the end, the Barcelona-Pyrenees candidacy for the 2030 Winter Games did not come out. What went wrong?

-It was a shame. The Spanish Olympic Committee did everything possible, but then other issues to which I am unfamiliar came up. It would have been very good for Spain.

-How is the candidacy for the 2030 World Cup going with Portugal and Ukraine? Recently they have consigned seven million for the promotion…

-There are many hopes. He would be the World of peace. We have a serious chance of achieving it.

-And do we have any Olympic news from Madrid?

-Spain deserves other Games. We are very good at organizing events, as well as having great athletes. The latest example was the final of the Copa Libertadores between Boca and River, in record time and without problems. Some Games in Madrid? Well, it could perfectly be. I am hopeful that we can carry out this project for the country, because it would be the Games in Spain. Hopefully one day it will be possible.

-What news would you like to see come out of the CSD in 2023?

-I would be satisfied with following the line of results of 2022 and that among all of us we could work together for Spanish sport so that the 2030 World Cup could be held in Spain, although it will not be decided next year.

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