Today's early morning announcement about the last cut in Mexico's world cup squad has not gone as smoothly as Javier Aguirre would have liked. His decision to exclude Barcelona's 20-year old midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos has sparked a wave of shock and anger across Mexico. Was it fair? Was it a result of Mexico's infamous politically heavy selection process? Is it just a football decision that the fans and press have made a bigger deal than it is? And why is his father Gerardo Dos Santos "Zizinho" making all these wild declarations to anyone who will listen?
Jonathan Dos Santos is a young player with great potential. He however has only really played 4 matches with Barcelona's senior squad, playing most of his games in Barcelona's developmental squad in the Spanish Segunda B division. In the few games he has played for Mexico he has shown flashes of talent and great potential, but he has not made it clear that he is truly deserving of a spot in the World Cup squad. Coming in Jonathan knew his inclusion was a long shot and that there were players more deserving than him, either because of their experience level or tactical need.
One could argue that great players like Ronaldo or Lionel Messi were included in World Cup squads before they were ready, and that it helped them. But the reality is that those teams did not face as many uncertainties as this Mexico squad does. With a team that has looked less than stellar in its tour of Europe, Aguirre had little to no room for a player who's role and contribution to the team could be fulfilled by a number of other players already in the 23 man squad.
I can't begin to understand how disappointed Jonathan is, but it all points to the fact that it really was footballing decision and that the infamous backdoor deals all Mexicans have come to expect from the selection process in El Tri were kept to a minimum. The inclusion of Adolfo Bautista, who everyone expected to be the last player cut, might not sit well with fans, but Aguirre has made it clear that he wants a player like him and Cuauhtemoc Blanco serving as a link between the midfield and the attack. What has irked me to no end however has been how this whole situation has been handled by Aguirre, the FMF, and Jonathan's father.
Aguirre and the FMF could have shown a little more class and decorum by actually sending Aguirre himself to announce the last cut to the press and not Director of the Federacion Méxicana de Futbol (FMF) Nestor De La Torre. De la Torre's press conference left more questions than it answered and made the whole process seem distant and cold. This along with the images of a sad and sullen Jonathan leaving the hotel and being asked to give back his uniform has angered many fans. Aguirre should know that as the head man of El Tri, the buck stops at his door. He should have gone in, explained his decision and it all would have probably ended there. Instead he opened the door for speculation. It has also become known that Aguirre himself was not the one who told Jonathan of his fate, and this is also not sitting well with fans and the media. It's making it seem that Aguirre delegates the more distasteful aspects of his job, thus bringing up questions of his character, something that has haunted him since he said some very foolish things about Mexico and el Tri in a radio interview in Spain last year. The problem is only getting worse because somebody decided to ask Jonathan's father, Zizinho, what he thought about his son not being included in the 23 man squad going to South Africa.
Zizinho had no qualms about telling the press about how angry and frustrated he was with El Tri, Aguirre and the FMF. He has accused them of being crooked, of running the Federation through cronyism, back door deals, and favors, and that he and his sons are apparently done with El Tri altogether. Although he is right in a lot of these things, he is doing his son no favors by making these declarations.
Zizinho basically turned Jonathan into the kid who looses a game and has the angry, usually drunk, and belligerent parent come into the field and make a fool out of himself. That is embarrassing when you're 8, imagine it when you're 20 and you are a professional footballer? Zizinho is also making claims that his other son, Gio Dos Santos, is so distraught that he is thinking of leaving the El Tri and not playing in the World Cup altogether. I don't doubt Gio is upset about his brother's cut, but I doubt it's strong enough for him to walk away from a World Cup in a squad that is going to feature him prominently. Zizinho has not only declared that Jonathan will never play for Mexico again (which technically could be true, he could still legally play for either Spain or Brazil) but also that Gio will never play for a garbage team (specially when referring to the current squad) like Mexico either, preferring to cut all ties to El Tri altogether. Again, anger makes us all do silly things, but badmouthing a team where your other son plays a important role is not the classiest or smartest thing to do. Also it creates a problem for Gio, who is probably not on board with the wild claims his father is making and might cause friction between him and the rest of the Mexican team.
Zizinho's anger at his sons exclusion is understandable, but his ridiculous and asinine declarations are an embarrassment not only to himself, but to his children.