A former coach of Real Madrid has criticized the political motivation behind the Spanish Football Association and Government’s decision to block Gibraltar’s participation in UEFA. Manuel Ruiz Pérez, who worked under Bernhard Schuster during his time at Real Madrid, said that nothing good come out of mixing politics with football.
“I do not get involved in politics, but I do not believe that the Spanish Government and football association can deny Gibraltar the opportunity to progress in football,” he said. “Gibraltar has the right to play and no one should be allowed to take that away from them.”
Pérez said Gibraltar’s inclusion as a fully-fledged member of UEFA is very positive and anything which evolves and favors football is very important.
“It is great to see Gibraltarian teams participate in the preliminary rounds of European competition,” he said. “It is a step forward in progression for the Rock and I think that at a social level it is very important for Gibraltar to be able to develop their football.”
This World Cup, Pérez said, has shown just how important football is around the world and it is positive that political issues stay out of football so that it may develop correctly.
“I am a sportsman and I like football. Any project or initiative that I see which can develop football, I see it only as a good thing,” he said. “If everything is done properly and in a continuous way from a grassroots level upwards, Gibraltar can reach another level which may not be expected.”
However, this, Pérez said, can only be done through the implementation of a proper structure and efficient working methodology and generate players from Gibraltar who can compete at a higher level.
“The GFA has to think about the long term and if things are done to improve things on a short term basis, then things will surely go wrong,” he added.