<
>

Jordi Cruyff's false start as Ecuador national team coach

play
How to add a footballing flair to household activities (2:07)

The Exploding Heads put their spin on how footballers can use home essentials to stay match-ready. (2:07)

Jordi Cruyff has yet to call up a squad or take a training session, let alone oversee his first match as coach of Ecuador. He has, however, already found himself caught up in an institutional crisis at the Ecuadorian FA, which has led to the replacement of the president.

A huge part of the problem has been caused by the coronavirus pause. South America's World Cup qualification campaign was to have kicked off a month ago. Instead, the start has been postponed until September -- and it is possible that the national teams will not be in action until next year. This obviously has an adverse effect on the cash flow and finances of football associations around the world.

- Stream new episodes of ESPN FC Monday-Friday on ESPN+
- Stream every episode of 30 for 30: Soccer Stories on ESPN+

Francisco Egas took over as FA president at the start of last year and, after the sacking (with an expensive payoff) of the veteran Colombian coach Hernan Dario Gomez, Egas went in search of a glamorous, big-name replacement. There was a long flirtation with Jurgen Klinsmann before Cruyff was announced earlier this year.

But two controversial areas have emerged in the dealings between Egas and the new coach. First, the other directors of the FA appeared under the impression that the payment ceiling for Cruyff and his staff was $4 million. It seems that once taxes are taken into account, the total is closer to $6 million.

And once it became clear that there would be no international matches for a while, Egas announced that Cruyff and his staff would be receiving only 30% of their salaries. The truth appears to be more complex; they may be taking a hit now, but the agreement is that the full amount will be made up once the team is back in action and the cash flow of the FA has improved.

Last Friday the board of the FA met and deposed Egas as president.

Is this all legal? Have the statutes of the FA been properly observed? CONMEBOL, the South American Federation, have requested information on the change, and there has been speculation that Egas might take his case to FIFA.

For the time being, though, the former VP Jaime Estrada is acting as the president.

Estrada is a fascinating case. In 1998 his father founded the Manta club in the town of the same name on the Ecuadorian coast. Estrada junior was a promising striker who played for the club's under-17s before giving up the game as a career to focus on his studies. Estrada senior later became the mayor of Manta, and Jaime took over as club president in 2010.

Three years later he felt the itch. He took a brief break from his presidential duties in order to register as a player -- and enjoyed a dream debut. He came off the bench for the last few minutes of a match at home to El Nacional. Manta were 3-0 up, and with his first touch, Estrada guided his shot sweetly into the corner to score the fourth.

The following week he came on right at the end of a 1-0 loss to Emelec before retiring once more, with a professional record of seven minutes played and one goal scored.

At the age of 35, Estrada's goals are now as the new boss of Ecuadorian football. First he aims to be ratified and consolidate his position as president. And then comes the task of persuading Cruyff and his staff to take a pay cut.