Interview: A sports reporter on the ground in Jaume Fiol Gomila
In the latest in a series of interviews with people involved with football in Menorca, I caught up with prominent sports reporter and photographer Jaume Fiol Gomila.
His work in documenting the Regional Preferente Menorca is crucial in adding colour to the action that we are able to follow worldwide.
There was a time when sports journalism was his full-time career, though the challenging economic climate now means he works in a contemporary art museum in Alaior, as well as snapping football action at the weekend.
Fiol said: “I have dedicated my entire life to the world of sports. I started very young, at the Diario Menorca at the age of 16, helping and doing an internship. An experience without a doubt very enriching and where I learned a lot.
“Now, unfortunately, I no longer live from sports.
“There are few means every time and the scarcest jobs. I have also worked in television, first in the now defunct Televisió Menorquina and lately I collaborated with the regional television IB3, especially when Menorca Bàsquet was in ACB.”
Elite sport hit Menorca when the island’s basketball team reached the top flight professional league, the ACB.
It spent a total of five seasons in the top flight, though after earning promotion back to the ACB in 2012, the club dissolved.
Inevitably, a phoenix club arose from those troubles and they are now in the third tier LEB Plata.
In terms of football, Tercera Division has been the best any Menorcan team can have hoped for since the demise of Sporting Mahones from Segunda Division B, the third tier, back in 2012.
While a phoenix club was built from those ashes, in Sporting Mahon, they are still playing in the Regional Preferente Menorca.
So, for now at least, professional football on the island is just a memory.
The recent re-structure of Spanish football means the Balearic group of Tercera Division is the fifth tier – and it seems a tall order for a Menorcan side to get beyond that, let alone to the third tier (now RFEF Primera).
Fiol added: “My best memories in soccer, without a doubt, were when the late Sporting Mahonés was in the Second Division and also the last one in the Third Balearic (Tercera) before the promotion by the team led by Vicente Engonga.
“Soccer on the island is currently low with only one team in the Third Balearic Islands (CE Mercadal) and I am concerned about the future of the king of sports. And I don’t think, at least in the near future, that there will be any team that will be promoted to the RFEF (Segunda).”
Clearly the size of the island will always be a problem for Menorcan clubs to progress, especially given the increase in costs when they move up the leagues. Recruiting players and travelling to games create significant costs.
There isn’t the commercial opportunity or the quantity of people to create a revenue-generating fanbase.
That, and also the sheer competition in getting people’s attention particularly with televised football from La Liga or otherwise, are responds that Fiol believes football struggles to kick on in Menorca.
He added: “The main problem of soccer is the destruction and lack of support. There’s more and more against it. Excesses of televised matches and little interest from young people.
“Regarding the merger, I believe that the wounds are not closed and there is increasing concern. Some agreements were not fulfilled and the merger was also done badly.”
A pleasure to connect with and gain insight from someone who is so closely connected and involved with football in Menorca.