Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Real Oviedo Story

It wasn't really a great season of football fandom for me personally as an Arsenal fan. Nothing much to write home about - and whatever that has to be written will be written a little later. But I thought of sharing here a story which most probably you have heard of, but nevertheless,I wanted to keep here - for posterity - if nothing else. And it is probably the football story, which will stay with me when I look back on the season of 2012-13.
Real Oviedo, a football club in Spain which used to play in the La Liga once - as recent as in the early 2000s, but had fallen on tough times, got relegated several divisions and this year - they faced extinction due to bankruptcy. A story, not too dissimilar to numerous other football clubs around the world - who have run out of funds after spending beyond their means.
But something wonderful happened here. Through social media, thousands of people - football fans around the world got to know of this club, their story and how there was a fans-led effort, a campaign to get people around the world to buy shares of Real Oviedo to help pay their debts and save the club. Sid Lowe (who in my humble opinion is the best football journalist going around), got involved big time and he was instrumental and getting lots of people really interested in saving the club and eventually - enough money was generated (with some decent help from one of the world's wealthiest men - Carlos Slims) and the club still exists today. This interview of Sid while the #SOSRealOviedo campaign was happening gives an idea of what was going on in the time that this event happened.
Three of the premiership's finest players - Juan Mata of Chelsea, Michu of Swansea and our very own Santi Cazorla have come through Real Oviedo's ranks or at least played for that club. The incredible story of how the club got into trouble and then came out in Sid Lowe's own words here is worth a read. Here's another fine read from the New York Times on the Oviedo phenomenon.
All this happened in last November. So why am I writing this blog now ? Well, I came across this short film on my twitter TL last weekend and it is worth watching.

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