Manager and Coaches Cause Public Stir in Lisbon

Portugal, 29 Apr - 26 May 2015
The major football trophies go to Lisbon while Jorge Jesus switches sides ++ Capital city has a new cultural attraction: the new National Coach Museum. by Ricardo de Brito
The major football trophies go to Lisbon while Jorge Jesus switches sides

Last week almost every football season in Europe came to an end, and Portugal was no exception. However, this year was quite special: the two most successful clubs of the capital city Lisbon, Sport Lisboa e Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal, won the major national titles. Benfica, the biggest sporting club in Portugal, won the national Championship and the League Cup, Sporting won the Portuguese Cup.

Last season, Benfica won all three national competitions, but this year they could win "just" two of them. What is most remarkable is that – for the first time in 30 years – Benfica won the Championship two years in a row. Some already presume that this may be the first step in breaking the hegemony of rival Futebol Clube do Porto (from Oporto CIty) in Portuguese football that lasted for almost 20 years. Unfortunately, the celebrations of Benfica’s success this year were marked by violence in Marquês de Pombal, the square in Lisbon where the teams celebrate their victories with thousands of their supporters, and in other places in the city.

For Sporting, wining the Portuguese Cup was also a great achievement, because the club had not won any prestigious competition since 2008. With the last match played and the trophies handed over to their new “owners” one would think that the season 2014/2015 is a thing for the history books and that football would disappear from the newspapers until the end of the summer break in September. However, the biggest and most surprising football news of this year was still to come: Benfica manager Jorge Jesus, who was a key figure in winning all the mentioned trophies, left Benfica to sign for Sporting – Benfica’s archrival. He had managed Benfica for six years and won ten major titles (club record), but is commonly known for being a fan of Sporting – the club his father played for in the 1940’s and where he himself started his career as a professional football player in 1973. However, no one saw this coming. It’s the first time in history that a manager switched from one of Lisbon’s major clubs to the other. Football fans and the public are now waiting for further information and an explanation regarding his decision.

Capital city has a new cultural attraction: the new National Coach Museum

The National Coach Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) is one of the most popular museums in Portugal. It sure helps that it is located in Belém, one of most touristic places in Lisbon, with beautiful views and monuments like Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiros dos Jeróminos), a UNESCO World Heritage site and the town’s landmark. However, the Coach Museum itself can look back on 110 years of history. Created by Queen Maria in 1905, it was housed in the old Horse Riding Arena in Belém Palace, at that time a Royal Palace which is now the official residence of the President of Portugal. It stayed there until this year, when the collection was moved into a new building just across the street. The museum boasts the biggest and best collection on coach related artefacts in the world. It gives the interested public a good picture of the development of carriages from the 16th until the 19th century. Visitors can even marvel at carriages that once belonged to the Portuguese royal family and nobility.

However, the moving of the collection into new building sparked a wave of indignation, mainly in the social networks. What was the problem? The new building looks very modern. It was designed by Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha and cost around 35 million Euros, making it one of the most expensive cultural projects of the last decade in Portugal. Despite all of this, the main problem for some people is that the new building is too modern and allegedly "ugly" compared with the old one. With its clean walls, the new museum differs from the old one, which features a neoclassic style and beautiful and luxurious rooms. Of course, the question whether one likes the new museum or not, is a matter of taste. However, as a comparison, if you go to the Louvre in Paris, you not only take in the artwork but also the extraordinary architecture of the building. Others argue that the most important thing is the piece of art itself, not the building or the room where it is located.

At the inauguration there were some other negative instances, for example, the projection of subtitles explaining the coach history was not ready. This gave visitors the general idea that things were done in a rush. Let’s hope that things will improve and the surroundings will someday correspond with the beautiful and precious coaches.

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Victory Ceremony of Benfica Lisbon

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Jorge Jesus
S.L. Benfica
Sporting CP

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