Spivs and Impostors: The story of Luis Figo’s move to Real Madrid | La Liga

sElectronic research by Edward Geiselman, a former professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, supported the theory that a person who lies often cuts eye contact and looks away at a crucial moment during interrogation. While it’s easy to read a lot into tics or someone’s behaviors, it’s clear that in the recently released Netflix documentary The Figo Affair, on two separate occasions the subject of the same name is asked directly about his seismic transfer from Barcelona to Real Madridit gives one-line responses during which the usually obscure stare with a noticeable off-camera look.

The two answers came 22 years apart. He told an investigative investigator in July 2000, before his controversial departure Barcelona, his eyes move sideways towards the end of the sentence. More than two decades later, as a more than willing participant in the documentary chronicling a deal that heralded the start of Real Madrid. galaxy In the afternoon, Figo was asked directly if he meant it when he insisted that he would not leave Barcelona a few days before his departure. “Yes then,” he said, looking away to his left, with a hint of a smile playing on his lips.

Of course the Portugal international might have thrown truth bombs on both occasions, like Figo affair He makes clear that he appeared to be a reluctant participant in the implausible deal that made him a pariah at Barcelona. Upon unveiling his star as a Real Madrid player, Figo could hardly have looked more miserable as club legend Alfredo Di Stefano presented him with his shirt, as he did not look like the world’s most expensive footballer as a hostage taking pictures that the kidnappers needed to use as proof of life. “I wasn’t in my mind to express my happiness,” he told the film crew. “I was there but I wasn’t there.”

Seeking to be elected president of Real Madrid ahead of current Lorenzo Sanz, who had just won two Champions League titles in three years after a long drought, Florentino Pérez promised Real Madrid fans that he would pay €60m as a release clause in Luis Figo’s contract to bring the player from Barcelona. At the time of the election, or pay the price of renewing his seasonal tickets in the event of not landing with his leg. It should be noted that this was in the year 2000 when that kind of money would have bought you more than half a decent full-back in the Premier League.

With Figo feeling undervalued at Barcelona, ​​where he was the team’s undisputed mascot, his agent Jose Vega was approached by ex-Portuguese player-turned-mediator Paulo Futteri, who was working on Perez’s behalf. Refused overtures. Despite this, Vautre told Perez that a deal was possible, but said Vega wanted a €10m commission. “And that was the day the Luis Figo saga began,” he explains. “It’s unbelievable that it started with a lie.”

Or is he? The makers of The Figo Affair brought together all the key players in that particular saga to explain their memories of the tumultuous few weeks of the 2000 Spanish recession, and it soon became clear that many of these memories were blurred at best and dishonest at worst. Figo, Fotri, Perez and Vega gave their often contradictory accounts of the move, along with Joan Gaspart, whose first and unenviable task as Barcelona’s newly elected president that summer was to inform the club’s glowing fans that their best player had been stolen. just before. Their fiercest opponents Real Madrid.

With or without the consent of his client, Vega signed a contract with Perez, which means that if the player does not go to the Spanish capital, someone – most likely Figo’s terrified agent – will be in touch with the Real Madrid president for £19m. Viggo claims to know nothing about this, while Vega insists that he did so with his client’s consent. While Barcelona could have paid the penalty clause and kept Vigo, paying such a large sum to a player who already owns them would have lowered the international’s funnyman’s prestige, not least because it was this money that Perez planned to renew. Season tickets for Real Madrid fans in case the transfer fails.

“The main reason I left is because they really appreciated and wanted me,” Figo reveals. “Finally I thought to myself. Was it selfish? Could it. Did I make more money? Yes but if I stayed I would get the same.” Not only that, but he would also have avoided the shock of being so badly abused and branded a traitor among other undesirable qualities by 120,000 banknote-waving Barcelona supporters, many of whom rained bottles, coins, cigarette lighters and a knife on anything. His painful return to the Camp Nou after three months. Another two years passed before he threw the infamous boar’s head in his path as he went to take a corner.

“Things went too far, the line was crossed,” says Pep Guardiola, who was among a supporting cast of his former teammates at The Figo Affair. “I have to be one of the few athletes who had to perform with 120,000 people against me – and they focused on me, not the team,” Figo later told Guardian catch Sid Lowe as he recalled Real’s 2-0 defeat.

The Figo Affair is an entertaining tale of a high-profile haul that smells of resourcefulness, clouded in almost relentless uncertainty and is conducted by the kind of devious, clever broadcasters and charlatans who have since come to epitomize such a trade with horses. Despite benefiting from 22 years of hindsight about an eventual successful career decision he was tied to, the documentary’s subject matter still appears to be a bit torn by its movement thus far. “I try not to have remorse because I don’t think it is of any use to anyone,” he says of unspecified mistakes he made in his life moments before the credits closed, his dark eyes staring unhesitatingly into the camera hole.