In sport, it isn’t very often that an outsider enters a club, brings about epic success, falls in love with the club, leaves and then comes back to retire there. It is also less often that the same player can come back ten years afterward and become coach of the club he most cherishes. Every Colo-Colo fan in Chile and the rest of the world is forever grateful for Marcelo’s feats as a player, his dedication as a coach, and his integrity to his word.
For Marcelo Barticciotto, one of the hardest things he has had to live with as a footballer was to play against his beloved club, score a goal and see their elimination from an international tournament. While all the fans of Universidad Catolica were hysterical about the event, the man could not and did not celebrate the goal. Instead, he bowed his head and walked back to the field with a sense of guilt and remorse. Not to worry, it only took another season for Colo-Colo to offer him a contract again and he was back,scoring and celebrating each and every goal with his favourite white jersey. Here’s what I mean: Barti loyal to his club
In the middle of 2008, he took the reigns as coach of his beloved Colo-Colo football club. After taking the team to its sixth consecutive grand final, the team had no trouble in winning its fifth title in three years. The first half of the 2009 season started off poorly as it had been the worst performance of the club in 20 years. After a 5-1 loss against the competition leaders (we were 14th at that time), Barticciotto quit his position as coach in front of his players in the change rooms . Well, his players pleaded with him to not follow through on his decision saying that they would put in an extra effort from then on. Marcelo still upset, accepted his players’ promise and stayed on without commenting the matter to the media.
The incident was eventually leaked to the media and this played against him as a sign of desperation and weakness. Over the weeks leading up to this affair, the team had played extremely poor in the local league. A strange occurrence as in the international competition the team was winning convincingly both at home and abroad. Rumours began circulating, suggesting that some key players were playing badly on purpose to bring about his dismissal from the club or a voluntary resignation. The reason for playing so well in the international arena was due to likelihood of current players being scouted by overseas clubs.
With the commercialisation of soccer/football these days, clubs from South America rarely boast players that are 1. fans of that club, 2. concerned with the current season and not worried about future deals. More than playing for loyalty to a club or playing for the team, many players nowadays play for themselves and their paycheck.
Marcelo Barticciotto always said that if his position as coach ever hindered the success of the club, that he would be the first to go for the good of the team. As the results continued to be negative – due to the fact that players while losing a game would no longer run, show effort and at times carelessly give the ball to the opposing team only to be followed by a goal against Colo-Colo – more and more pressure built up (from glory-hunting and impatient fans) for him to stay true to his words and leave. It is always so easy to blame one man when a team is not succeeding. From the directors’ point of view, it is cheaper and easier to let the coach take all the blame than to lose two, three, or four stars. Regardless of their lack of loyalty, those menacing players are still worth money in the international and local football market.
Barticciotto resigned on 17 April, 2009. He said it would have been a lot sooner if it were not for the loyal fans of the club and his admirers, he did not want to upset or let them down. In an interview he stated that they were the purest thing the institution has. He is evermore surprised by the affection they have for him and he is grateful for their support and at the same time sorry that this had to happen. The reason given for his resignation (and of the coaching group) were due to the frustration provoked by some players’ lack of respect and foul attitude. After private meetings with the board, with the team, and a friendly make-up barbecue, there was still a lack of commitment from those same trouble makers. Three players were making his coaching role difficult as well as disappointing attitudes from the team’s captain who decided to side with his co-workers.
Shortly after the 5-1 loss to Union Española, Barti was given the moral support from the club to take matters in to his own hands and to discipline the players he was concerned with. After another defeat the following week he did just that for the next game where he did not bring the three most problematic players interstate to even see the match. In that same game he took the captain off at half time. This upset more than a few players. While most players were sensible and diplomatic to not comment to the media during this time, the temptation was too much for some who now started to criticise their superior directly to the media.
An unfortunate collection of events indeed. Barticciotto, your health and wellness exists away from this chaos brought about by selfish, immature and ambitious individuals. You did your best. You took the blame for so long. You followed through and made harsh decisions. You opted for the success of the club instead of keeping everyone happy. You sacrificed your own career for being loyal to your words. When enough is enough and people do not reciprocate the respect you give them, it is time to think about yourself and realise that you don’t deserve or need this type of treatment.
We respect your decision. We are grateful for the 7 premierships as a player, for that wonderful Copa Libertadores cup (the one that no other Chilean football team has won), the Recopa and inter-Americana. Thanks for scoring a goal against Colo-Colo although you might not had wanted to and thank you once again for not celebrating it. Thanks for taking on the role of coach we all dreamed for you, and for that premiership you achieved in your first season with us in that role. Thanks for leaving gracefully and letting time and history to deal with issues that one man should not have to solve on his own. I know how convenient it is for the directors to show you public support now but while these issues were not solved you should not have had to deal with it on your own.
As we stand by the colours that motivate and inspire us, we know that you are part of our community and that you share the passion and suffering that goes with it as if you were just another random fan. But you’re not, you’re the hero we won’t forget, we can’t forget. Just like the glorious idol we all cherish and honour – David Arellano, founder, captain and martyr of Colo-Colo – you Marcelo will always be remembered for giving yourself up for the team.
Regards and farewell.
Reinaldo, Colo-Colo fan, and admirer of great people.