Two Decades Later, the World of Soccer is Still Debating the Controversial Decision of the Portuguese Player who left FC Barcelona for Real Madrid. This is our Review of "The Figo Affair: The Transfer that Changed Football".
LatinAmerican Post | Yolanda González Madrid
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Leer en español: Reseña de "El caso Figo: El fichaje del siglo": Una historia de rivalidad, dinero y mentiras
The history of Spanish soccer could be reduced, for the inexperienced, to two teams: Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Several players have had the joy of defending both colors, although only one ended up suffering the anger and contempt of the fans: Luis Figo. Two decades have passed since the Portuguese was the protagonist of the most controversial signing of the century, and all that path is what Netflix presents us with "The Luis Figo Affair".
The Portuguese player became an idol in Barcelona, where he won titles and reaffirmed his poster as the best player in the world. However, he unexpectedly went from hero to villain after completing his move to Real Madrid. Much was said and misrepresented about his decision, to the point of calling him a "traitor", "gold digger", or "Judas". How could a simple transfer cause such a stir?
The documentary directed by David Thyhorn and Ben Nicholas shows the vision of the different parties involved during that episode. To say that someone has the absolute truth is not correct, but this production will lead the viewer to have a better perspective of what happened. In addition to Figo, figures such as Paulo Futre (former Portuguese soccer player), José Veiga (Figo's agent), Joan Gaspart (president of Barcelona at the time), Florentino Pérez (president of Real Madrid), among others, also intervene.
At first, some will think that the documentary may be purely about sports, but it is not. Following an interview methodology, "The Figo Affair" is developed through the different readings of the relationship between those involved. First, Figo is shown professionally; then, the determining role of his relatives such as Paulo Futre and José Veiga; and, finally, the words of the presidents of Madrid and Barcelona.
Figo's time with the Catalan team was always on the rise. His quality and skill on the field translated into both titles and affection from the fans. However, the emotional part is not everything, and more so when it comes to a job or business. As mentioned in the documentary, the situation of the Portuguese was no longer ideal, since he did not feel valued by the club's managers.
At this point money enters fully, the eternal protagonist in soccer and life. Most fans forget that being a player is a job, like any other, and if conditions don't improve, then you have to change it. Practically, that happened to the Portuguese, who in the end wanted to listen to the proposal of another, with the luck that that "other" was the staunch rival.
In the middle of the whole novel, we must also highlight a supporting character: the lies. From Futre and Veiga to Joan Gaspart, lies or half-truths adorn the entire show. It is difficult to draw conclusions in "The Figo Affair" when contradictions are the order of the day, even on the part of the Portuguese himself. In fact, Spanish soccer is so influenced by the press that the media played a fundamental role in the love-hate relationship of the signing.
Most critics and journalists say that the documentary is worth seeing, although for some it does not show new details that were already known before. The soccer fan will enjoy it to the fullest, and those who do not follow it so closely will understand this world a little more. Everything is summed up in an entertainment industry that is generating more and more money, and in which players put the loyalty of some colors before a millionaire contract.
It is not surprising that "The Figo Affair" is a success in Latin America and Europe, since it is about modern history and soccer culture. So far, no other signing has managed to be so controversial, let alone generate such wild consequences. Another century may pass and it will continue to be debated whether or not Luis Figo's decision was justifiable. Let everyone draw their own conclusions.