la otra selección – the team delegates
Today’s profiles focus on the three delegates of the team. They are Pedro Cortés, Juan Luis Larrea and Luis Uranga, and in this World Cup, they served as the link between the RFEF, FIFA and the World Cup organizing committee. Normally, two out of the three travel with the team, and one of those two is always with the team if anything happens, such as a problem with the training field or if a player has an issue with a family member. The other accompanies RFEF president Ángel María Villar in official acts. In South Africa, Cortés and Uranga traveled with the team, and Larrea joined them later on when Villar came to South Africa.
You probably know Pedro Cortés (left) as the man that Gerard Piqué so elegantly spat on during the World Cup celebration in Madrid. But there’s a lot more to him. Cortés was born in Valencia in 1948, although he and his family moved to Germany when he was 12 to look for a better future. Cortés was a football player and coach for 13 years for regional teams in Valencia, and also held a directors position in Valencia CF, where he would also become president, twice.
In 2002, the RFEF asked him to come over, and he accepted. He describes his job there as “solving problems and trying not to create them.” Cortés was good friends with Luis Aragonés, and said that each time Luis asked him something football-related, their conversations always ended the same. Luis would tell him, “you have no idea, no fucking idea,” Pedro would reply, “so why did you ask me?” and Luis would laugh. As for Vicente del Bosque, Cortés considers him “a gentleman.” Pedro believes the success of the team is due to one Xavi Hernández, “el dueño del balón.”
Juan Luis Larrea (center) is the only one of the three who is also a RFEF director – he is the current treasurer of the federation. Job responsibilities there include controlling the accounts and supervising negotiations for the bonuses. Larrea is also the president of the Gipuzkoako Football Federation. He was with Xabi Alonso yesterday; you’ll see why in the next post. Of his job as a delegate, he says, “you try to bother people as little as possible and you try to make everything as easy as possible.”
Luis Uranga (right) is the former president of Real Sociedad. He describes his job responsibility as “making sure everything goes well in the group of 40 people.” He said after coming back to Spain from South Africa that “the atmosphere in the group was even better than it looked from the outside.”
And of his experience with the team in South Africa, Uranga said, “there were four or five songs that the players would put on repeat every day… going to and from the airport, in the training sessions… One was Shakira, the other was from the Coke commercial with David Bisbal… I know them practically by memory, but I don’t know who sings them or in what language.”
Another great memory was when Real Sociedad ascended to the first division, a moment that was celebrated by Uranga, Xabi Alonso, Ochotorena and the two chefs, who all watched the game together. A lot of the players congratulated this group because they knew how much the team means to all of them. Among the happiest was Xavi, because, due to his football obsession, he knew the history of la Real and what type of team they are.
Uranga is also linked to the bullfighting world, as he has invested in some ranches raising bulls for bullfights.