The former director of national teams, Diego Henriquez, spoke about what he experienced during his time at FESFUT in the Güiri Al Aire program. Henríquez explained the problems that he experienced with the previous executive committee of the federation.
Since when do you not work in the Federation?
Officially since June, that was the last month.
How do you describe your stage in the Federation and that your contract will not be renewed?
A roller coaster and a slightly bittersweet professional experience. There are tools, opportunities to take advantage of and they were not done, having the human resource and the resource to invest it, it was not possible to execute it in the best way. That not only for the last Under 20 qualifiers, but in general and it was a pity that it was not possible to work with the executive committee on the same page.
Is there a clash of mentality with the professional structure of national football?
At no time will I speak ill of any member of the committee. The summary is that we had very different visions and these collided to the point that it was no longer sustainable for anyone. Most of them thought of re-election and it was not sustainable for me to continue in this structure if the visions were totally opposite and the ways of executing these visions were totally opposite. That’s why I decided to make this statement when I was still part of the federation that it was important that no one said that because I didn’t say things when I was inside. I respectfully asked them to tell me if they didn’t want me to continue and so it happened.
Were those differences in decline or did they always exist?
The moment where it begins to break is when we qualified for the octagonal after winning in Saint Kitts and Nevis and we still had to come to play here. There I see a different opportunity that we had not had, first we get to the final phase of CONCACAF that we had been doing for years and I had presented several plans not only for the selection but for the development of soccer and they told me that unfortunately there was no money. We qualified and I see an opportunity to change that and present to a private company a plan that I had more the octagonal and there they give me the endorsement to do it and when they begin to become a reality, we as sports staff could not guarantee that that money would be it was going to be used for those and that’s when I start to see a difference in vision and start not to share that. That got to the point that the players in the game against Canada talk and speak up until I get to U20 when they take me out of the delegation.
Was not guaranteeing where the money was going because the Executive Committee did not accept that the management was someone else’s or because they said that the money was for the federation and that they were going to take care of it?
When I presented the plan they told me that there were no resources to do it, I said that I was going to negotiate because I was not going to sit idly by. We moved together with teacher Hugo and when they began to confirm they were not guaranteeing that they were going to be used and for me there was a short circuit because they tell us that there are no resources and we are bringing them and they would not let us fulfill those plans. . Some were scouting in the 14 departments, camps for the minor teams. Training school for coaches that has been neglected for years, and the contents were not even consulted with me or with Professor Hugo. We believed that if we were going to be able to do it, but when it didn’t happen, in addition to demotivating you, it generates a disconnection from the commitment that we all had because we were in the federation.
Why was it never possible to establish a filter so that the players were not talking about money with the president of the Executive Committee?
The executive committee never empowered me as they should have empowered the sports director, not because he was Diego Henríquez but because he had not existed. I explained to them the roles and responsibilities that the person in that position had to do and that they let me do it. The issue of prizes and that exhaustion of the captains to talk to the members of the committee, the way these players traveled to the camps or to the games was not correct and sometimes they were annoyed that I demanded that and it was simply to give it prominence to those who needed it, which were the players.
Did the sports management never have autonomy to say things about logistics?
Partially, we never had the empowerment that could be had. Before the program I was listening to a workshop by the Greece coach and he was explaining how they schedule their FIFA date, the coaching staff coordinates that, not someone who is at a desk and thinks that it can be cheaper. There are professional details that make the player feel good. We found out with the coaching staff through Twitter where we were going to play the friendlies, against whom and on what date. I spoke with the sports director of Mexico and the United States and they have total empowerment.
What should be the priorities of the new executive committee?
There hasn’t been an opportunity like this to sort out the federation. This is a clean slate and we must appreciate that FIFA is giving an opportunity that we did not see coming. We all budgeted for a suspension and not having it and being able to create this commission and provide these solutions with INDES and see the statutes. Before the committee arrives, these are the things that must be discussed and another point is how these profiles will be chosen, that each one present a plan for their sector. Just as a selected team is questioned about his performance, so are the federations and not because they are elected they are already four years old and if things go wrong in a year or six months, the leader will continue for four years.
Sports was not in the main of the institution?
The federations are there to bring football. There are human and monetary resources to be able to invest and change things. This is an opportunity for the people who arrive to give the country a new direction. If they created a hotel but you have two fields that do not work as they should, you have 100 people working in the administrative part and you only have two goalkeeper trainers or limited technical staff. The center of management is not only in the player but in sports, which must be the objective of everyone who arrives.
How much of what you worked for remained in the federation or does it go with you?
I think steps were taken to say that there is a different culture in working in a different way, in respecting the player, in using technology. Nowadays you see teams like Costa Rica with three physios, three video analysts.
If the next executive committee has the opportunity to take the basics, how much would that cost annually?
About a million dollars a year that includes physical therapists, props, video analysts.
Is it ideal to have a coaching staff with each team?
Ideally, each team should have a different head and assistant coach than the others. Between May and June, Panama had four teams between Under 20 and older, each of which had its four coaching staff, that is a 2026 plan. That is a close example of what has to be done.
What happened to Erick Acuña?
At that time I sacrificed my academy to take him to women’s teams and he became more in tune with the direction the committee wanted and I decided to change paths.
Did you sell players to any team in the world?
Very far from reality. The player is educating himself about the opportunities he can have and they looked for a culprit.
When giving advice, did you think you could have made a mistake?
The one who gave the most advice was Gerson and I was drawn. People thought that because of the College Cup I was even a FIFA representative, I think that was part of the misinformation and confusion.
How close should the coaching staff be to the first division?
Many times we wanted to meet with the first division and above they told us that it was not possible. The relationship that must be had between technical bodies is important. In Europe you get those reports.