Valedores de Iztacalco Futbol Club, a televised dream.

Valedores de Iztacalco Futbol Club, a televised dream.

By Mariana Sánchez Razo
Fue en el año 2007 cuando el peor equipo de la tercera división en el fútbol profesional del país conquistó el corazón de millones de mexicanos al obtener un espacio dentro de Los Protagonistas, programa deportivo de Azteca Televisión, conducido por Jorge Campos, Christian Martinoli y Luis García.  Los Valedores de Iztacalco, bautizados así por la misma televisora, fue un equipo a cargo de El Magnate, Ángel Morales Nava, que además de este, tuvo como entrenadores a José Luis Rangel “El Zopilote” y Vicente Raúl Jimenez “La Volpin”. 

It was in the year 2007 when the worst team in the third division of professional soccer in the country captured the hearts of millions of Mexicans by gaining a spot on “Los Protagonistas,” a sports program on Azteca Television, hosted by Jorge Campos, Christian Martinoli, and Luis García.

“Los Valedores de Iztacalco,” a name given to them by the television network, was a team led by “El Magnate,” Ángel Morales Nava, and had coaches such as José Luis Rangel “El Zopilote” and Vicente Raúl Jiménez “La Volpin.”


The Origins of El Magnate

The first dreamer was Ángel Morales Nava, nicknamed El Magnate due to his experience leading different teams like Tlaxco de Tlaxcala and Teziutlán de Puebla. In 2006, he was offered a third-division team that no one wanted because it had only accumulated defeats, the “Deportivo Santa Cruz,” a team that El Magnate accepted without a budget or a place to train. Initially, he thought about locating it in Deportivo Iztacalco, where he is originally from, as he had always dreamed of bringing a team to the place where he grew up.

Morales Nava had to earn the franchise’s ownership through multiple payments because the franchise costs were around 120,000 pesos. He took on the challenge and gradually gained notoriety as the club’s head. This, coupled with his success with San Andrés, an amateur team in the fourth division coached by none other than Emilio Venustiano Olvera, better known as “profe Venus,” led to most of San Andrés’ players joining Santa Cruz. El Magnate decided to name it Deportivo Iztacalco, but, ironically, they never set foot in the place that gave them their name because it was impossible to find a space to train in that delegation. Their matches and training sessions took place at the San Bernardino Stadium in Texcoco, also known as “the wall of dreams.”

In their first season, Deportivo Iztacalco stood out as the worst team in the history of professional soccer in Mexico, with 15 defeats and -40 goals. However, this did not prevent “Los Valedores de Iztacalco” from becoming a national phenomenon.


Los Valedores on Television

On the other hand, it was in 2006 that the triad that still maintains the ratings of the network’s sports events consolidated, Jorge Campos, Christian Martinoli, and Luis García. At that time, this team sought to increase viewership records due to the departure of José Ramón Fernández as the network’s sports director. André Marín took his place and decided to replicate the reality show produced by Fox Sports Argentina, “Atlas: la otra pasión,” which narrated the adventures of an amateur team and was very successful with South American viewers.

Barak Fever and Eder Velázquez undertook the task of researching and producing – with a very low budget – a segment that would be part of the last four minutes of the “Los Protagonistas” program every Monday. The network contacted El Magnate, and that’s how, in a parodic tone, Fever and Velázquez introduced Mexican audiences to the Fútbol Club de Iztacalco.


Audience Reception

To the network’s surprise, Mexican viewers became engaged with the team from the very first broadcast. Barak Fever stated that they themselves had no faith in the team initially. For the first programs, they sent only one camera, without hosts or narrators. It wasn’t until the network saw the team’s connection with the audience that they paid full attention. After getting to know the team members and defining the comedic tone of the segment, the program’s hosts christened the team as “Los Valedores de Iztacalco.”

A large production was not necessary; every Monday, “Los Protagonistas” dedicated the last four and a half minutes of their program to broadcast news about the team, the weekend’s games, and, of course, the thrashings suffered by other teams. Even though they were the most beloved team at the moment, they maintained their place as the worst team in the third division.

“Los Valedores de Iztacalco” were harshly criticized and envied by other third-division teams because their fame made no sense considering their poor performance on the field. This demonstrates that success is relative when what remains in the public’s mind are life stories, the feeling of living hand in hand with the players, and the dream of becoming stars of Mexican soccer, along with their private lives. It’s no secret that, to this day, the main ingredient for the success of any reality show is the characteristic telenovela-like melodrama, familiarity, and, above all, the transformation of other people’s dreams into one’s own. Week after week, the eyes of thousands of people were eagerly awaiting the Valedores’ vicissitudes.


Boost or Exploitation?

Many people believed that, due to the media impact of “Los Valedores,” the only thing the team received from the network was exploitation and audience at their expense. This phenomenon is not new and even continues in current formats on different networks. “Los Valedores de Iztacalco” embarked on a tour of Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Veracruz, and Acapulco, which was attended by more than eight thousand people. This was viewed negatively by the public because they never received money, support, or equipment and facilities for optimal training. Other opinions consider that the team’s exposure on television was the best thing that could have happened to them, considering their lack of success as football players.


The End and a Reunion

At the end of 2007, the team held auditions to recruit new players and accepted five out of 700 applicants. In the same year, they had their first victory, also loaded with irony because they won by default. In that same tournament, after a one-to-one draw and twelve defeats by thrashing, “Los Valedores de Iztacalco” lost their place in the third division.

In 2008, another audition was held, and six out of 5,000 aspirants were selected. They played a friendly match against “Los Protagonistas,” which they lost one to zero. After this and due to low ratings, Azteca abandoned coverage of the team. Without public attention, the Valedores retained the only thing they had: defeats. Later, three years later, the network organized a friendly match against “Muñecos de Papel,” their new prospect team, which defeated the Valedores 4-0.

In 2016, “Los Valedores de Iztacalco” officially disappeared. Although many consider that they were used and discarded as a national joke, for others, they represent great childhood memories, a different era, and they compare the Valedores’ defeats to those of the Mexican national team, with the difference that the Valedores were likable because, regardless of their performance on the field, they brought good times to Mexican families. This comparison is not without significance and has a significant background because “Los Valedores de Iztacalco” represented neighborhood soccer, the kind that is experienced without luxuries and top-notch equipment, far from the elite and privilege.

On the other hand, this phenomenon also reflects the importance of context, Mexican television, and the good or bad management of any company in the face of sudden national success. “Los Valedores de Iztacalco” were, for many, a taste of what the world would like to see in first-division teams, a true identification with reality, passion, and failure.

Mariana Sánchez Razo

Ex ex teatrera y estudiante de letras. Artista audiovisual amante del absurdo y el simulacro que resulta del lenguaje y la experiencia estética.

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