For years, Mexican football players have complained that no one defends their rights.
The existence of the “Draft,” the ‘pacto de caballeros’ within club owners and the lack of a players’ union all are proof of it. And while there is now a fledgling players' union, there's still plenty of room for improvement.
Oswaldo Alanis, now a defender with Real Oviedo, is proof of that. But, he said, a player eventually becomes beaten down playing in Liga MX and can forget his value after being subjected to so many of the quirks of the Mexican game.
“They make you a bit submissive with all that. I decided that I wanted to follow my dream, what I was focused on,” the Michuacan native told Goal after a morning training session with Juan Antonio Anquela’s team.
Having been champion in the league and cup with Chivas, Alanis had planned to follow his dream of playing in Europe, but he did not have it on his radar a few months before.
After the 2017 Apertura he was pushed to the margins, sent to train with the second division rather than going through preseason with the first team. He had refused to sign a new contract and was set to leave on a free in the summer - something most Mexican clubs simply will not allow.
He held out, however, and now his experience of being a free agent could give rise to him setting a precedent in Mexican soccer.
“Hopefully it may have helped. I did it to follow my dreams, for what I believed I could achieve," he said. "We all should think in this same way, whether its a Mexican player or anyone else - especially Mexicans. If it works, good. If not, at the end it’ll be another case.
"I’m happy with how it got worked out, that I can continue on and not sit on my hands, in a certain way, deciding to stick with something that my heart didn’t want or that didn’t make me happy. If it helps more people to get the courage or decide to chase after what they really want or follow their dreams, I say go for it."
After arriving in Spain, Alanis got to work with Getafe, the Liga club where he had signed a contract, but he was not taken into consideration by manager Jose Bordalas and had to look for a new club where he could continue with his career.
Oviedo, owned by the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim-chaired Grupo Carso, opened its doors to him.
“It’s difficult to go through things like that,” Alanis said. “What I wanted was to have the chance to play football, to show I wanted to keep growing and advancing. It was tough. I always try to look for the positive or find the way I can benefit from something.
"Of course there were some fears, things that made it tough. Fear comes into your mind, uncertainty, doubts. At the end, it got resolved in a way where we have the chance to keep growing, thinking in doing well and helping the team."
Did the directors back home do everything possible to help the Mexican player move abroad?
“That would be generalizing a lot. Every one has to have their own way of seeing things," he said. "More than support, it would be a plus for everyone, not only looking for only one side to benefit or wanting to have everything and get a lot of money.
"They’re really personal questions. Every director behaves in a different way. Hopefully that changes and the league and regulations keep getting better.”
Just a few weeks were enough for Alanis to consolidate himself as a starter on the side, which plays in the Spanish second division. He’s played 468 minutes in six matches.
“Now, I’m enjoying a new stage, a new club, a new way of playing," he said. "While it’s still soccer, there are different details from Mexican soccer.
“As a person, I’m adapting, getting to know a new culture. It’s the same language, although the way of living is different. It’s something else to live in Europe. I’m happy, calm, we’re getting to know and do things well on this side."
For Alanis, the Derbi Asturiano against Sporting Gijon was a big moment. He returned to the field after missing time because of a muscle injury and scored for Oviedo for the first time.
“It was a really good moment. It helped to have motivation to keep going forward. With everything that happened in the summer and the few matches I was able to play with the little injury I had, scoring a goal was sort of being able to say, ‘I’m here. I’m ready for what’s coming'. I took that moment as getting back on the map, being seen again by everyone."
When it comes to the national team, Alanis endorsed the arrival of Gerardo Martino as the new manager of the national team after his stint with Atlanta United, which recently won MLS Cup.
“It’s going to be something positive, all being on the same wavelength and working in the same way, believing in ourselves and that things are going to go well,” the defender said. “What we’re looking for is for Mexican soccer to grow. We’re at a strong level and we have to keep advancing. It’s going to be good. There’s a good process coming. It’s going to be a really good change."
He’s hoping he can get into Martino’s squad with his positive club form and that Martino could stay for several years and carry out a project.
“We’re hoping so. It’s football. There are still four years, so you have to see how it develops. There are different studies that say you have to last several years at a team to have success," he said.
The left-sided defender saw the process of getting Chivas to the Club World Cup up close. In the Concacaf Champions League, Alanis scored for the team, then coached by Matias Almeyda, as it qualified for the tournament.
Now, speaking before the squad took on Asian champion Kashima Antlers, he has only well-wishes for Pepe Cardozo’s squad.
“Really, I wish them the best. I hope it goes well for them," he said. "Hopefully they have a good showing for Mexico, for Chivas, for what the team represents. It’s what we want as Mexicans, whether Chivas fans or not.”
While Chivas' dream ultimately didn't come true, Alanis is pushing on hoping to make his goal of being a regular in European football become a reality.