Cementeros must pour new foundation yet again

Cruz Azul players walk off the field after defeating Atlético San Luis in the season finale. (Photo by Carlos Ramirez/Getty Images)
Cruz Azul players walk off the field after defeating Atlético San Luis in the season finale. (Photo by Carlos Ramirez/Getty Images) /
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Twenty-two years and counting. That’s how long Cruz Azul fans have been waiting to see their heroes lift a Liga MX trophy. And the wait seems destined to continue … or does it?

Cruz Azul was a mess throughout the Apertura 2019, both on the field and in the front office. The Cementeros boasted one of the league’s highest payrolls yet missed out on the playoffs, firing their coach in the process.

Perhaps most damaging was the front office disarray. General manager Ricardo Peláez quit after losing a power struggle to a former team executive who re-inserted himself into the decision-making process after coach Pedro Caixinha was fired.

While Peláez was interviewing candidates for the coaching job, Víctor Garcés hired Robert Siboldi. Peláez quit and is now running the show in Guadalajara.

The Cementeros’ front office mess still has not been rectified: the Cementeros do not have a general manager and though former club vice president Garcés is still pulling strings, he is not recognized by the league as a team executive.

Cementeros rebuild
The sudden reappearance of Víctor Garcés, an executive vice president, during the team’s coaching search led to resignation of general manager Ricardo Peláez. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

While discord and disorder characterized the front office, the team performed indifferently on the field. Peláez & Co. spent millions to construct a roster that was supposed to challenge for a title. Instead, the Cementeros finished a miserable 12th, with a 5-8-5 record. The club’s faithful fans made clear their disdain for the mess, average attendance at the team’s home games at Estadio Azteca sank to 17,764. Embarrassing, indeed.

Muddling things further, Cruz Azul president Guillermo Alvarez continues to battle insurrection by shareholders who have leveled accusations of fraud and embezzlement. One court challenge was dismissed in September but allegations of illicitly won wealth have attracted the attention of Mexican and U.S. investigators. “Billy” told the media this week that he did not possess a fortune and reports of his extensive property holdings were false.

As the controversy swirls around above them, coach Robert Siboldi is trying to have the roster he inherited remade while the team operates without a general manager. Club officials insist they will present the new GM this week, but they failed to sign their first choice – Carlos López. Negotiations fell apart in late November amid speculation that Garcés’ insistence on being the puppet master was the breaking point.