FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS
Volume 1: Part III
Crisis Management within Soccer
Doeg said “what makes a problem into a crisis is the media or, in some instances, the likelihood of media attention…. It is when the media intervenes too early that a crisis ensues” and with the level of technology in this day an d age media coverage is growing and its starting to unmask all the corruption within football and in some cases this has led to it being labelled as a crisis.
There are many different types of situations which can be defined as a crisis, such as bankruptcy, bribery, mismanagement, tax problems, transportation accident and much, much more. Unfortunately for the beautiful game, it has encountered nearly every type of crisis. With the growth of media we have seen some of the best players in the world such as Lionel Messi being accused of tax evasion, the former FIFA president Sepp Blatter receiving an 8 year ban from football for mismanagement and the Liverpool fans walking out on a match in the 77th planned rise of ticket prices to £77.
In my previous post I touched on the Sepp Blatter incident but never looked at the management side of this crisis, which is what I want to look at today. An example of crisis management comes with one of the most recent disasters in football, which happened on the 28th November 2016 when a plane containing 81 people crashed, killing 77 of the passengers on-board. The plane, operated by Bolivian-based charter airline Lamia, was flying from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia, to Medellin, in Colombia in preparation for the football match. The plane was transporting the players and staff of Associação Chapecoense de Futebol (Chapecoense). Unfortunately there were no survivors. This was an immediate crises and the effects were found across the world with everyone showing their sympathy. This was not the first time a disaster like this happen as on the 6th February 1958 a plane with the Manchester United players and staff failed to take off on a runway in Munich, causing it to crash and killing 21 people and leaving 2 people unable to play football again.
The club didn’t have much time to come up with a plan as they could not have expected this to happen. Since then the club have recovered remarkably as they stand as a state champions of Santa Catarina, sit 10th in the Brazilian Serie A table, only saw their Copa Libertadores hopes ended by a forfeited match, and remain in contention to defend their Copa Sudamericana crown. It was a situation that need needed careful management by all, firstly by CONMEBOL who organise the competition. The Chapecoense team were on their way to play the first leg of their final when disaster struck. Instead of rescheduling the match to another date, CONMEBOL crowned Chapecoense as champions of the competition. The club had a difficult situation on their hands as many of their players did not survive the crash and their club president was also a victim of the disaster. Many thought they would not recover but thanks to the directors and the generous support of many others. The directors of the club selected another of athletes to come in the make up the team so they could continue to compete, Paraguayan football team Club Libertad have put forward their whole first-team squad for Brazilian side. A former player (Tulio de Melo) who had left the club just the year before returned to the club to help them, he spoke about the tragedy by stating that “We will never forget what happened and what the athletes, most of whom were my friends, did for the club. We will never forget that. But we cannot regret this every day, or the sadness never passes. So we talked about this and we made a pact to play with joy and to honour our friends that died.”
The fact that the club have rebounded so well from this incident and that they are still fit to be competitive shows just how well this situation was managed. This is never an easy situation to handle for anyone, but I feel the club did all they could in this situation.
Stay tuned for future posts and I hope you have a very nice day.
Joseph McAuley is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @JosephMcAuley96 / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.mcauley.3