Friday, December 3

Florentino’s audios and a reputational problem | sports

The president of Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez, at one point in the Champions League match between Real Madrid and Atalanta played on March 16 at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in Madrid.
The president of Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez, at one point in the Champions League match between Real Madrid and Atalanta played on March 16 at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in Madrid.GEtty

Underground game is the expression used in football to define a behavior that disdains ethics, tries to stay hidden and seeks appreciable benefits. That it is difficult to detect does not mean that it does not occur and that sometimes it comes out with a bang. To this category of underground game, but with noisy consequences, belongs the recent case of the recordings made of Florentino Pérez without the knowledge of the president of Real Madrid and published in The confidential.

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The audios come from afar and belong to José Antonio Abellán, director of the program The Slingshot on Cadena Copa between 2000 and 2009. Abellán has acknowledged that the recordings, made between 2006 and 2012, are his, but denies that he leaked them to the digital newspaper. This is the last case in a country where the trafficking of sound files has become an undesirable national sport, revealing practices that produce disgust and social disappointment.

The betrayal of trust stands out as the first element of this episode. Florentino Pérez did not know that the private conversations that have now become known were being recorded. There was, therefore, a prior will to deceive, it is not known with what intentions, but none amiable. In deontological terms, the matter violates the most basic ethical codes of the journalistic profession. It is an indecency in all rule.

Filtering the audios to The confidential and its subsequent publication have generated a debate that refers both to the ethical part of the case and to the content of Florentino Pérez’s comments. Justice will say if there is criminal matter in this episode, as Real Madrid claims, but the case has deserved wide media coverage and has been installed in public opinion. Is on the street.

Intrusive eagerness

In this area, the perplexity caused by the rude epithets that Florentino Pérez uses to disqualify Real Madrid players and coaches, footballers such as Raúl, Casillas, Cristiano, Figo and Guti, among others, and technicians such as Vicente del Bosque or, in a less drastic scale, José Mourinho.

The virulence that the president of Real Madrid uses to attack his players is impressive, most of them with trajectories that place them in the mythical pantheon of the club. And although the comments were made in the confidence of the private, the garbancero and faltón language used by a character of his magnitude in the world of football and business is also impressive.

This aspect unknown to the public, but revealing of character, marks an abysmal distance between the contained, unalterable and mellifluous character that appears before the public, and a tacky aspect that ascribes him to the long tradition of presidents known for their fondness for debarking.

So unpleasant, but more disturbing, is his desire to encroach on territories that do not belong to him, that of journalism, for example. One thing is the communication strategy of a club and quite another is to reveal the type of contract of the journalists who are annoying to him – as Florentino Pérez advanced in the conversation, Roberto Gómez’s contract was not renewed at RTVE – or to predict the end of a television show that makes you uncomfortable.

This case will not change the position of Florentino Pérez at Real Madrid, where his power is not questioned, whatever happens. For a man so preoccupied with forms and an undisguised fixation on the public image – his critical allusions to Raúl, Cristiano and Mourinho abound in this chapter – these recordings present him in his most cruel and raw version, a president hypersensitive to criticism it receives, but devastating in which it slides under the cord. Now that this difference is known, the problem will not be one of power, but one of reputation.

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