El Centrocampista

CARELESS WHISPER – Looking behind the Xavi scandal

In a week dominated by El Clásico, the figure of Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez staring out from the front of every sports daily in Spain is no surprise.

Yet again however, I must regretfully say that there’s not a piece of analysis nor  tactical insight to be found.

Instead, only days after I ranted about the complete lack of focus on matters on the pitch by the Spanish press, yet another scandal has appeared.

On Friday afternoon it emerged that Xavi, whilst sitting down for an interview with Barça TV, had made a comment about Real Madrid that he thought was off the record.

Except when Xavi Hernandez said that “they don’t know how to lose, they’re (expletives deleted)” the camera was still rolling.  Soon, somehow, someway, the video made its way into the hands of the Madrid media.

The outrage that followed was as predictable as it was unnecessary. You see, in reality, Xavi’s comments were nothing new. After the much publicised brawl following the return leg of the Spanish Supercup in the Camp Nou last year, Xavi publicly stated, almost word for word, the same phrase that he is now being hung for.

Much ado about nothing, in other words. Nothing new and, let’s be honest, nothing particularly shocking.

Respected Spanish football journalist Edu Polo managed to cut through the nonsense with a typically astute observation:

“The reaction of some people [to the comments], who use nothing but insults in their arguments, do nothing more than prove Xavi’s point”.

The over-reaction isn’t only coming from Madrid. Word has it that FC Barcelona are launching an investigation into the event, with the aim of finding out who leaked the tape.

The breach of privacy won’t do much for the reputation of Spanish production company Mediapro either, who recently took over the production of Barça TV following FCB’s decision to outsource the channel.

In truth, the only worrying issue here is from a journalist’s perspective. Considering the comments were made to fellow proffesionals working in some capacity for the same company, the club would have expected the informant in question to be aware of the standard codes of practice that are to be adhered to in this situation.

In other words,  if something is said off the record, it’s supposed to stay off the record. Especially when it comes from a guy who plays a part in paying your bills. Mediapro had best hope they weren’t in breach of their contract with FC Barcelona as a result, too.

Perhaps the Catalan club should be thankful  that the mole decided to strike so soon though. I’m fairly certain worse things are said by players that would be far more damaging to the club’s reputation if they had been leaked. Lesson learned.

The only thing that remains to be said is that the mole in question will hopefully already be looking for a new job. The “investigation” probably won’t take long, with the person in question likely to be someone with little to lose and therefore not in a position of any real power at the production company.

Knowing first-hand how prevalent the use of interns is in television, and in light of the latest Spanish unemployment figures published this week, I wish him (or her) luck!


  1. Iain McMullen

    28 January, 2012 at 14:48

    It’s a storm in a tea cup but somebody maybe losing their job over it – it makes it even worse that the ‘off-the-record’ comment was reported by somebody meant to be working on behalf of the club…

  2. Lee Roden

    28 January, 2012 at 15:16

    That was my concern too. There are certain practices you expect from people who are supposed to be your colleagues. It’s complicated by the fact that they outsource the production now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s small print that says Mediapro aren’t allowed to compromise the club’s reputation.

    • Iain McMullen

      29 January, 2012 at 10:27

      Highly unprofessional and very embarrassing for Mediapro.

  3. Juan

    28 January, 2012 at 16:26

    Very good analysis. Xavi said nothing new, he had said before Madrid had problems losing and all players -Pique, Alves…- when confronted after the game with Madrid’s complaints referred to the clear red card of Lass as counter-example. Even off camera, Xavi showed more class than players like Casillas or Sergio Ramos on camera, or on Twitter. The off records of Madrid players, those would probably be explosive.

    But the fact that this grew so big (with even fall-outs outside Spain) shows the immense power of the Madrid media. This is a major problem for Barcelona and they can’t seem to get a grip on it. Reputation is (almost) everything these days and Madrid’s media power is often winning this battle for them.

    The real issue is indeed how did this leak, because now it’s only this but of course next time it could be something “really” bad. Could be a technical problem as some pointed out (sending full footage to tv stations without cutting at the right time), but could be something else too. Seems Mediapro has now full control over the images, so images could circulate more freely “inside” the company (that on a sidenote also produces the content for Real Madrid tv) so could have been available to many people and not only Barça Tv staff. Or could be some people of Barça Tv still didn’t digest the outsourcing and wanted to show the board what can happen if you outsource and lose control over your club channel.

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