After soccer team purchase, Utahn becomes Costa Rican celebrity
"I was just a curious guy who thought it would be cool to own a soccer club," Patey said. "I had no idea (about) the public side of owners or managers or players in Latin American soccer, but I was extremely naive."
As public life became a reality for Patey, he made the conscious decision to make himself personally accessible to fans and media while keeping his family completely off limits. That decision has set him apart. It not only has drawn fans of his own club to him, but also the fans of other clubs.
"It's created a dynamic where not just the Utah State fans, but also the BYU and Utah fans, to use an example, are asking for more pictures and autographs and are just as grateful for me showing up to help the club," Patey said.
Patey has found ways to use his celebrity status to improve the atmosphere surrounding the sport and share his beliefs. He renegotiated the contract with the local television station to broadcast his team's home games on Saturdays rather than Sundays. Herediano is the only team in the Costa Rican league to do so.
"I told them, 'Look, if it's on Sunday, I'm not going to come, so put it on Saturday and let me come,'" Patey said. "Sunday's my day for my family, and I've always been really committed to that and have been able to maintain it so far."
Patey has also made a serious effort to decrease hostilities between fan bases and promote an atmosphere of friendly competition. Before and during home matches, he and the opposing president will walk among fans of both teams to shake hands and take pictures.
"We've been trying to do things that aren't normally done, and the people like that," Patey said. "Soccer, and sports in general, is to make friends. It's not to make enemies."
And Patey is making friends, a lot of them.
On Feb. 23, El Diário Extra, a major newspaper in Costa Rica, led its "50 questions on Saturday" series with the sentence: "It doesn't matter what team you cheer for, you just can't hate this guy." A quick glance at Patey's Facebook page shows Patey with local media, fans, friends, and all sorts of people, not all of whom have an allegiance to his club.
"We're trying to see if we can set a little more of an example on that side, and it's working really well."
Indeed it is.
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