Manchester United decided that Mason Greenwood would recommence his career away from Old Trafford and in the end it was Spanish top-flight strugglers Getafe who took the controversial decision to sign the striker.
Getafe were widely applauded on social media when their president Ángel Torres called for Luis Rubiales to step down after the Spanish Football Federation chief’s unsolicited kiss on the lips of Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s win in the Women’s World Cup. Nine days later, the Madrid-based club signed Mason Greenwood on loan from Manchester United.
Torres took a strong stance on the Rubiales row. “What he has to do is resign,” he said. “Rubiales cannot continue for one minute more in his role.” His remarks came just three days after Spain’s triumph in Sydney. He was the first president of a LaLiga club to call for Rubiales’ resignation and his words won Getafe some good will. Now, all of that seems worthless.
FANS FLOCK TO UNVEILING
Late last Friday, Getafe announced the signing of Greenwood on loan from Manchester United. The 21-year-old forward has been suspended since January last year after allegations of sexual assault were made. The charges against him were eventually dropped, but the images and audio are out there for all to see and hear – and they are deeply disturbing.
“It is a very delicate situation to trivialise this issue,” Getafe coach José Bordalás told reporters after his side’s 2-1 defeat at Real Madrid on Saturday. “Everyone knows what happened and the appropriate measures were taken, obviously. We can only talk about football.”
On Tuesday, Greenwood was unveiled alongside Getafe’s two other deadline day signings – Diego Rico and Óscar Rodríguez – as around 5,000 fans turned up at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. For a club that is often mocked for its low attendances, that is a lot of people for a player presentation.
Asked about the club’s controversial new signing on Tuesday, sporting director Rubén Reyes replied: “We have nothing to say. The most important person with anything to say has already spoken and that is the judge. That is the absolute highest authority. What we have done is sign players who are available to be signed.”
GREENWOOD AN OPPORTUNITY
Those statements are both ambiguous and inaccurate. In fact, the decision to drop charges against Greenwood was made after “the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction”. In his own statement, Greenwood said he had been “cleared of all charges”. But he was not.
Getafe will know that, although most of their fans probably do not. In the end, the Madrid-based club have seen Greenwood as an opportunity: a player who would usually be too good for their team, but one who is available due to the allegations of sexual assault and his time out of the game. While Lazio had also been interested in his signing, many other clubs steered well clear, aware that his arrival would represent a public relations disaster.
Not Getafe. Despite their president’s position in the Rubiales row, the LaLiga club took the decision not only to sign Greenwood, but also to use the English forward as a marketing tool on their recently launched English-language X, formerly Twitter, account.
September 1st: “Incredible transfer market end!! Mason Greenwood signs for Getafe CF”; September 2nd: “Mason Greenwood’s new kit”; September 4th: “MASON GREENWOOD IS HERE” / “Mason Greenwood jersey is ready!” / Hi Getafe fans, welcome home @masongreenwood”; September 5th: “The STAR BOY” / we love you Mason Greenwood” / Our guy “Mase”; RIGHT OR LEFT? @masongreenwood” / The MasonMANIA / AN INCREDIBLE TALENT WHO WILL WEAR THE 12… LET’S GIVE A WARM WELCOME TO MAASON” / “That look on your face when @masongreenwood gives you his jersey” / September 6th: “Mason and the team are working hard in the training session today” / “Happy boy! @masongreenwood”. And on it goes.
Happy boy 😍
— Getafe C.F. English (@GetafeCFen) September 7, 2023
The account has already amassed more than 40,000 followers and many of the replies and quotes are in support of Greenwood. Getafe know what they are doing and it is bringing the club plenty of publicity, while helping them to grow their brand in new markets, even if they are doing so by attracting a lot of toxic masculinity from around the globe.
NO ONE LIKES US
On the pitch, Getafe believe Greenwood can help make the difference for a club which only narrowly avoided relegation in a six-way scrap for survival at the end of last season. It is fair to say that Bordalás’ brand of football is disliked by many in Spain already. Often described as negative, dirty and borderline brutal for constant fouls, play-acting and interrupting the flow, Getafe appear to be embracing the old motto: “Nobody likes us, we don’t care.” Greenwood’s arrival will hardly help.
If the forward’s signing proves a hit on the pitch and sees them climb the table to move clear of the relegation zone or even challenge for a place in Europe this season, they likely won’t care about the negative publicity surrounding his signing – especially as it is also helping the team to grow their brand internationally. Time will tell whether it works out in football terms. But when it comes to values like feminism or equality in a time of real change for Spanish football, it will be a long time before Getafe can be taken seriously again.