FC Dinamo fans step up to save club from decades of corruption, Covid crisis

By Marcel Gascón

Bucharest, May 28 (efe-epa).- FC Dinamo Bucharest has been mired by decades of corruption and mismanagement, issues that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, which has forced the club to close its doors.

But a group of die hard supporters have stepped up to try to keep the club afloat and bring back the glory days of the team’s past.

“Not playing games has made it very difficult, but people have understood that, with or without a pandemic, with or without a crisis, Dinamo is loved, and (they) have reacted accordingly,” Ionut Zainea told Efe, of the Doar Dinamo Bucuresti (DDB).

DDB, a supporters group founded in 2018 which took over 10 percent of the club’s shares, brings together 6,000 fans who have, so far, managed to prevent the team from going bankrupt.

The organization has managed to raise around 360,000 euros through membership fees, auctions of t-shirts and other sought-after items of memorabilia, as well as ticket sales for a virtual FIFA video game match.

The funds have gone towards paying the salaries of players and license fees so the club can continue competing in the Romanian first division.

Since the DDB took on a stake in the club, fans have gone from being mere spectators to part owners, allowing the group to function as a watchdog of sorts, keeping operations and management in check.

Since then, any shares that have been sold have been traded for exclusively business purposes after years of corrupt dealings.

“The ideal scenario for us is for an investor to come and put tens of millions of euros in Dinamo, although at the moment this may seem utopian,” says Catalin Alexandru, another DDB leader,.

“The DDB program is prepared to take control of the club and create the conditions for the arrival of a foreign investor,” the young fan says.

In recent months, Dinamo has met with several potential investors but so far no major deals have been tabled.

An investment group from the United Arab Emirates hinted at some interest in the club but that soon fizzled out.

Negotiations with an investment fund led by ex-Seville director Herminio Menéndez also collapsed, and recently the Romanian press has been fuelling rumours of a possible purchase by another group represented by former Getafe CF leader Juan José Melero.

The model that has inspired DDB is one that has worked for several Spanish teams including Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, whose members elect the president and have a real say in the decisions their club takes, and who have rejected the model of publicly traded companies adopted by many major clubs in Europe.

“We have been inspired by countries with a tradition in this regard. There are important clubs in Spain that are based on fans,” Nicu Grameni, spokesman for DDB, says.

The association dreams of gaining more power and working to make Dinamo a team that can once again stand up to the continent’s leading teams, as it did in the 1980s.

Founded in 1948, Dinamo is the second most successful team in Romania, with 18 league titles and 13 cup titles, only behind long-time rival Fotbal Club FCSB, formerly Fotbal Club Steaua Bucuresti.

Throughout the 1980s, Dinamo was a regular at top level European competition, losing out to heavyweights Liverpool in the 1983-84 semi-finals of the European Cup, as well as making it to the last eight of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup against Italian side Sampdoria.

A year later, Dinamo lost to Anderlecht in the semifinals of the same tournament.

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