Borja Iglesias (Santiago de Compostela, 28 years old) became the second most expensive signing, after Denilson, in the history of Betis, who paid 30 million euros to Espanyol in 2019. After a year and a half performing discreetly, the forward reflects on the other end of the phone about the Superliga and his personal good moment and that of a Betis who visits Valdebebas today (21.00, Movistar LaLiga).
Question. What is your opinion about the Super League?
Answer. I think that meritocracy is a fundamental part of sports. Success must come from what you do in the field and not because you have a certain story or that many people see you. I am in favor of keeping football as it is. Then there will be people who want to make changes, but football is a sport that was born from people who did something to enjoy it and then, I don’t know why, people who watch it began to like it and also enjoy it that way. I am in favor of taking care of that essence of football that moves us all. We all like to grow, measure ourselves against the best and if a rule prohibits it, it is not the same.
P. Whose football is it?
R. I enjoyed football more as a fan than now, because I know it more from the inside. Soccer, obviously, people love it, who practice it with their friends and watch it on TV because it is an impressive spectacle. But soccer is also a very strong business. You have to find the middle ground. It is not easy, but obviously football belongs to the fans.
P. When you hear Florentino Pérez say that an Elche-Valladolid does not interest anyone, what do you think?
R. It’s not very nice to hear that. That Florentino or someone does not see that game does not take away all the work behind it, everything that moves so that that game is broadcast, the footballers, the club employees who prepare the stadium … There are many people who are part of that game . Sometimes I don’t see either Madrid or Barcelona and suddenly I see myself in front of a Zaragoza-Almería because I’m interested. That I am not interested in a match does not mean that it does not interest someone else. You have to respect the fan a lot. Thanks to them we are what we are.
P. As an NBA fan, do you see your model exportable to European football?
R. The NBA has been around for many years. It was founded already with that idea. To transfer that model to European football would be to change it from top to bottom. Football is a spectacle, without a doubt, but it is not staged in this way. Its essence is different. In football there are aspects such as rivalry, how to defend your community, which are very important. I have lived with Betis in a tie with Antoniano in the Cup and I have seen how my rivals enjoyed playing against us. I have lived it too, wanting to meet a great one. I have colleagues in Coruxo or Compostela who wrote to me before a Cup draw to see if we would face each other. That is also football.
P. Is the worst thing about this Super League its almost closed formula?
R. If it can be. The Champions League and the UEFA Europa League reward teams that win in their countries the chance to play a continental tournament. The income aspect can also be improved, I don’t know, it doesn’t correspond to me, but football and the fans don’t want things to settle down just because. Everyone has the right to see their teams grow and stay in the elite, or fighting not to go down and to go up also has its incentives. That approach to football is special. We all want to give the best version to achieve goals. You have to earn it. There is the example this year of Granada. That must remain alive, like Málaga in the Champions League or Betis itself when it played the highest continental competition. Or the Espanyol with which we got involved in Europe. I lived the Europa League of Celta de Berizzo as a youth squad, those semifinals against Manchester United. Living that atmosphere in your stadium was tremendous. That illusion cannot be taken away from people. It is a fundamental part of people’s commitment to football. They are magical situations.
P. Do you think young people are detaching themselves from football?
R. I think not, but it is true that he lives it in a different way than I did, for example. You no longer play on the street, as I did, and young people have access to other things through mobile phones and laptops. They can access other things that did not exist before and with tremendous instantaneousness. I think young people are still passionate about football, but with the nuances of a new era. Football can be a great vehicle to transmit values to young people, such as teamwork, and that continues to be very powerful. It can give you many things that you do not have if you spend hours and hours sitting in a chair.
P. Should footballers earn a little less money to help football?
R. Well, that is already doing. Many templates did it when the world was stopped by the pandemic. Now too. Payment deferrals are being made. We players are aware that the situation is delicate and we want to help.
P. He has been at Betis for a year and a half. He has had a hard time. How are you now?
R. I am now happy. I have always tried to be, facing problems from peace of mind, working harder to demonstrate that effort that Betis made for me. The first year was very difficult, but now I can say that I am in the best moment of my career in terms of sensations. I want to grow and contribute everything that is expected of me.