Ángel Arenas, the coach of the men’s kumite team, resigned this Sunday as reported by the Spanish Karate Federation (RFEK) through a statement. Arenas, who had been in charge of the national team since 2003, has decided to say goodbye after the internal war that broke out last week. The men’s team decided to stand and not go out to fight for the bronze in the European Championship in Croatia on Sunday 23.
“I had been thinking about it a lot, and after what happened in Croatia, the first thing that came to mind was to leave it for everything it could bring with it; that in the end it tires and it is not the moment to be suffering. I’m leaving, for what it’s worth… ”, Arenas tells by phone. And he adds: “I have no doubt that I failed. I had to have mastered that situation and I did not know and I could not do it ”.
He says that after spending so many years with the men’s kumite group, something else was expected. “I didn’t have the leadership to make them compete when they should have come out to do it. I tried to talk to them to make them see the consequences of that gesture and I could not convince them to leave. It was because of my inability to lead ”.
Raúl Cuerva, Alberto Delestal, Samy Ennkhaili, José Rafael Ibáñez, Rodrigo Ibáñez, Marcos Martínez and Babacar Seck gave up competing because they believed it was the only way to be heard. “We couldn’t take it anymore. We have been enduring insults, threats and lack of respect constantly throughout this Olympic cycle ”, Marcos Martínez, a 24-year-old engineer, confessed to this newspaper. The insults and threats, they say, came from both the president, Antonio Moreno, and the coach.
Samy told this newspaper that Arenas called him and Babacar Seck “black and moor.” He also remembers having heard the coach address a teammate like this after a match during the European match: “You did a shitty match because you shit your pants and have the balls to tell me it’s not true.”
He assures that the insults have occurred throughout this Olympic cycle and that the athletes have been enduring and normalizing them despite the fact that they had little to do with the performance of the sport. “We were holding on to the unique opportunity to be at the Games [el karate se cae del programa olímpico en Paris2024] We said to ourselves: ‘come on, nothing happens, there are two-three championships left. The day will come when we will say that it was worth it ”, say Marcos and Samy. The rest of the team and they know each other from the lower categories and have been climbing steps together until they reach the senior category. The results obtained in the inferiors have not been the same as in the absolute.
Arenas denied the allegations. In a conversation with this newspaper, he said he felt betrayed. “Because this team was treated very well, we have been treating them well for many years and trying to get the best out of them. This championship has not turned out as it should have and the behavior they have had has not been what it should have been ”.
This Sunday he again made it clear that he did not insult anyone. He says he has uploaded a post to Facebook with several photos with athletes. “So that people know where the persecution and mistreatment are. I have nothing to do with it”. He has not spoken to the members of the men’s team since last Sunday.
The Federation’s discipline commission, which has to decide the sanction of the group for having refused to compete (between two months and two years of suspension) has not yet issued a resolution and is listening to all parties.