Note from the editor: Regular readers will know Anne as she contributes on a regular basis to the comment section of our website. As she supports Barcelona but also likes Arsenal she has been following the Cesc saga in both media in England and in Catalunya-Spain. In this article today and in the next that will follow shortly she will highlight how the media in both countries have been using quotes out of their context just to make a new headline and to add to the controversy between the clubs and the fans of the clubs. With the quotes starting to come above water once again these days this article and the follow up might warn you not to believe all that is written on websites from “serious media”. Because of the length of the article we had to cut it in two. The next part will come online later today.
THE CESC TRANSFER SAGA REVISITED: a critical analysis by a Barcelona fan who also supports Arsenal
The summer is upon us again, bringing with it the usual influx of transfer talk; the gossip, the rumors, the innuendo…all intended to keep us sated and reading until there’s some real football news to report again. However, in the current transfer season, there’s a conspicuous absence…a gaping hole that’s usually filled by the media’s favorite transfer story of all…Yes, I’m talking about the infamous “Cesc Transfer Saga,” which we’re normally being inundated with at this point.
But things have been unusually quiet this summer. And doesn’t it make you wonder why? Well, I think I know the answer to that question. And what’s more, I’m going to share it with you. However, you’ll have to bear with me a little. Because to answer the question of why there’s so little transfer saga this summer, we have to go all the way back to the beginning of last summer, and re-examine that saga as it unfolded from the beginning.
We’ll start in May, 2010. The Spanish national team is congregated in Spain and preparing to leave for South Africa to play the World Cup. The Spanish sports tabloids are just getting their own Cesc transfer saga into gear, and during the month of May, they are lucky enough to have access to all the Barcelona players together in one area. There are a number of interviews with Barcelona players that appear in the Spanish media at that time, and in some of those interviews, Barcelona players do in fact make some comments about Cesc (although it’s worth noting that these comments always come in response to questions).
The following comments by Xavi are a good example of how the Cesc comments from this time period tend to sound in their original contexts. I’m actually going back to November, 2009, for this one, but it’s still representative of what came later. I’m doing that because I want to show you Xavi’s most infamous quote in its original context. Here it is (Xavi’s comments were part of a 28-question interview, and came in response to questions 21 and 22):
“Interviewer: Do you believe that Cesc will be your successor?
Xavi: Hopefully he will be my successor, and until then my companion. The more [good footballers] that can come here and associate with me the better. Good footballers have to understand each other on the pitch. If Cesc comes, that would be great. I would like it, because we would enjoy ourselves on the pitch.
Interviewer: He’s very good?
Xavi: Yes, definitely very good, and also with the DNA of Barcelona, able to make that ultimate pass, he would fit in here perfectly.”
So, there you have it. Xavi’s infamous “Barcelona DNA” comments in their original context. Incidentally, this is the ONLY Spanish interview I’ve found where Xavi actually makes any mention of Cesc’s Barcelona DNA at all. It’s also the only one I’ve found where the media source actually published the entire interview, including both the questions asked and the answers given.
One more quick note about “Barcelona DNA” before I move on: although it sounds weird in English, saying that someone has “the DNA of Barcelona” is actually a very common phrase in Catalunya. They use it to refer to anyone local, and a good English translation would be saying that someone “is a local boy.”
Moving on to England in May, 2010. Around this time, the English tabloids are also trying to gear up their own Cesc transfer saga, and you see them begin to publish statements by Barcelona players linked to “Spanish media sources.” However, if you look at the statements in both English and Spanish, you’ll notice that the English media reports have a distinctly different tone from the Spanish reports. Whereas the comments in Spanish are generally just complimentary towards Cesc (like Xavi’s comments above), and along the lines of “yeah, sure, it would be great if he came here,” the reporting in the English media has a distinctly nasty tone to it. Specifically, it’s antagonistic towards Arsenal. A typical example would be the following:
“Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez has added to the furore surrounding Cesc Fabregas’ potential move to Catalonia by publicly admitting: ‘Yes, I’d love for him to join us.’
Arsenal star Cesc caused a storm by reportedly telling friends he’d sign for Barcelona before there World Cup, and today Arsene Wenger responded by begging his skipper to stay for two more years .
The Arsenal boss will be dismayed by Xavi’s words today, though, which are sure to cause further controversy.
‘He’s a very close friend of mine,’ added the Spanish star, ‘and a footballer with Barcelona’s DNA.'”
-The Mirror, May 15, 2010
And things only get stranger from here on out…Moving on to June, 2010. In June, the Spanish national team, and the Barcelona players along with them, leave Spain for South Africa, where they will remain until the conclusion of the World Cup. At this point, as would be expected, interviews with Barcelona players cease appearing in the Spanish media, because the Spanish media no longer has access to the players. Interviews with the Spanish media won’t appear regularly again until August, 2010, after the World Cup has concluded and the players have returned from their vacations.
Considering that the players are in South Africa, are busy with the World Cup, and have ceased giving interviews to their local press, you would expect interviews to stop appearing in general at this point. And yet, here we see the beginnings of an odd phenomenon… Just as the interviews in the Spanish press dry up, we begin to see an influx of new interviews with Barcelona players that originate in the ENGLISH media. And not just the occasional interview, either. I’m talking about hundreds of interviews…Interviews that appear on a weekly, and sometimes even daily basis. And as the summer goes on, more and more interviews begin to appear. Although nearly all of these interviews are about Cesc Fabregas, you see Barcelona players chiming in on other transfer rumors as well.
And in addition to the increased frequency of these interviews, a couple of other trends start to emerge as the summer goes on: 1) the interviews become increasingly insulting and antagonistic towards Arsenal; and 2) the sourcing on the articles becomes increasingly shaky, and by the end of the summer, sourcing is virtually non-existent. Both of these trends are apparent in the following two “interviews” with Carles Puyol that appeared in the Sun late in the summer:
“Barca defender Puyol — who along with Fabregas was part of Spain’s victorious World Cup squad — says the midfielder should be allowed to move back to the club where he started his career in order to win more silverware.
Arsenal have not won a trophy in five years and Puyol, 32, said: ‘I think Arsenal need to respect his class and show the same class by giving the guy who has given so much to them the move that he and his family want.
‘He isn’t just being deprived of moving to the best club in the world, more importantly, he is being deprived of coming home.
‘He has tried everything to win trophies at Arsenal and when he sees the success so many of his Spanish team-mates are having at Barcelona, it’s only natural that he should want to be a part of that.’”
-The Sun, July 18, 2010
“Barcelona skipper Carles Puyol declared: ‘He is having to stay at a club where he no longer wants to be for another year.
‘I wonder how intelligent it is keeping a player who doesn’t want to be there.
‘After seven years of great service, I thought Arsenal could have granted him his dream move.’
Puyol added: ‘Cesc has given everything to Arsenal to try to win a trophy but they haven’t matched his expectations.
‘I won’t say he is in a prison, as we know how privileged we are as football players.
‘But after how clear Cesc made it that he wanted to be in Barcelona, I thought they would have granted him that.’
‘He is far too classy a guy to say it but the truth is he doesn’t want to be at Arsenal this season. His heart is already in Barcelona, even though we must wait another year for his body to be here.
-The Sun, July, 30, 2010
So, the Sun managed to obtain two interviews with Carles Puyol within 2 weeks, did they? And this despite the fact that Puyol was on vacation at the time? What enviable access…I chose these two specific “interviews” with Puyol for a reason, which I’ll come back to in a bit.
But for now, back to Spain. As the World Cup gets going, the Spanish tabloids are keeping their Cesc transfer saga going as well, but with one key difference: having lost their own access to the Barcelona players, they are now publishing player interviews and citing them to ENGLISH media sources. It’s like earlier in the summer, but in reverse.
HOWEVER, the question that arises is, how on earth do British tabloids like the Daily Star and the Sun have such regular access to Barcelona players, when even their own local media doesn’t?
An interesting question indeed…And another interesting question is why the Spanish papers subsequently stopped publishing these interviews? Because as the summer went on, and as the number of interviews in England increased exponentially, the number of these interviews that were re-published in the Spanish papers decreased significantly. Why would that be? Did the Spanish tabloids simply lose interest in the story? Unlikely, because they continued pushing the transfer saga in other ways, just absent the player interviews.
So, why did the Spanish tabloids start backing away from these “interviews?” I suppose that technically you’d have to ask them. But it’s worth noting that the Spanish papers are much closer geographically to FC Barcelona than the English papers, and thus any chicanery that they engage in is highly unlikely to go unnoticed by the Club. The English media, on the other hand, is a different story. As we’re about to find out, the transfer saga in England had to reach absolutely ridiculous proportions before it finally drew action from the Club.
But that is for the next article.