GUADALAJARA – The Chivas institution is in a dark place.
This time it isn’t relegation creeping up, the ownership being accused of discriminatory practices in the United States, or the latest run-of-the-mill firing of a coach due to performances on the field.
This time it feels different, like the club has arrived at some kind of crossroads.
It all started Wednesday, when Chivas announced a news conference in Mexico City.
Club owner Jorge Vergara and sporting director Francisco “Paco” Palencia attended, with the owner dropping the bombshell that Ricardo La Volpe had been fired from his job as Guadalajara manager after having engaged in “inappropriate conduct” with a female member of staff.
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“I received the call yesterday, we did the investigation that we needed to do to take this decision and unfortunately we had to come to this conclusion,” said Vergara, without going into details about what had been investigated.
Later Wednesday, the person in question -- alleged to be the club’s podologist -- then made an official complaint to Mexican authorities, according the various reports in local Guadalajara media.
Former Mexico coach La Volpe himself remained silent on the issue until Thursday evening, when he set up and attended a news conference close to his home in Guadalajara, where he lives with his family.
Visibly shaken sitting alongside his lawyers, the 62-year-old denied any wrongdoing, but said he did go to visit the club podologist earlier this week because he heard a rumor that she was giving massages to players.
La Volpe said that it wasn’t her job to do so, and that he went to tell her that.
“I couldn’t allow the podologist to give massages,” La Volpe stated with his usual tone of incredulity. “A podologist? They are for nails and feet, not massages.”
He continued: “In my own way of correcting it, I went to see her and confirmed she did give massages -- not where you are thinking, which is nonsense -- but to the knees of the players. I saw she was using arnica ointment . . . and I said it wasn’t permitted. The complaint ended there and I left.”
The well-known coach admitted he didn’t hold back in telling her off and insinuated that she may have feared for her job.
La Volpe also said it is now a question of clearing his name for his family, and he challenged the club and the person making the claims to provide proof of the allegations.
“It’s [all based on] the word of the girl and I want to hear [from] her and I want to see her,” La Volpe said.
The ex-Boca Juniors manager started off his news conference by lifting the lid on his perceived irregularities at the club since he joined just one month ago. He seemed to be giving a not-so-subtle hint that other factors may be at work in his firing.
Firstly, the Argentine said he agreed to a contract with the club, was presented to the media and took a training session, only to find that the contract didn’t contain the same terms he had agreed to.
“The good bit of the story is that I stayed silent,” La Volpe said. “I should’ve gone then.”
He painted a picture of an organization in disorder, with secrets, spies and an non-conducive atmosphere to getting results on the field.
At the end of the news conference, La Volpe -- famed for his attacking tactics and one of current Mexico coach Miguel Herrera’s main influences -- was asked how he had spent the time since his firing.
“Crying,” he said, before choking up and rushing out of the room.
La Volpe joins a list of people including Aaron Galindo, Nestor de la Torre and Oswaldo Sanchez who have had conflicting versions to Vergara of why they were forced out of the club, but this case is altogether more serious.
The issue is set to rumble on for days, weeks, months and possibly even longer.
Among all of the mess is the truth.