SPAIN: The war between the stars of soccer

The war between the stars of soccer
José Maria Garcia, in an archive image, during an editorial meeting
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A challenge between two Spanish journalists, kings of the ratings and rulers of the fans, took place in Spain at the end of the last century. The programs they invented aired on two networks after midnight, and were followed by millions of Spaniards. Thirty years later, that epic battle is being celebrated by a TV series

It is a beautiful story that the Italian magazine Contrasti, a sports and cultural magazine, dedicates to the challenge between two Spanish football commentators, which took place in Spain between the eighties and nineties of the last century. The protagonists are José Maria Garcia, the true “dominus” of commentators, who earned more than soccer players (in 1987 his cachet was one billion pesetas, equal to 6 million euros today, without indexation) and his antagonist, José Ramón de la Morena.

Spanish TV, drawing on archive material, has produced a programme on the beginnings of José Maria Garcia and made it available on YouTube
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Garcia used to broadcast on Cadena Ser (an acronym for “Sociedad Española de Radiodifusión”: today it has about 250 owned and almost 200 associated stations,) but it was from 1982, when he moved to Antena 3 Radio (a national network closed in 1994) that his season of success began. “Supergarcía“, his program aired from midnight onwards (he decided at what time to close the microphones) would be followed by over a million people. Thanks to his program, the flagship of the network, Antena 3, exceeded Cadena Ser in terms of ratings, but when the station was purchased by the competitor (which absorbed its 93 stations) Garcia moved to the antagonist network, the Catholic Cadena Cope (acronym of “Cadena de Ondas Populares Españolas”, where he remained until 2000, and then moved to Onda Cero (third in ratings, it has 220 stations), where he remained until 2002. Garcia was so popular and powerful that he could tell team presidents and ministers to go to hell, and he had a special relationship with King Juan Carlos, who gave him exclusive interviews.

José Ramón de la Morena will leave the microphones as of 30 June 2021. At 64, he has decided to devote himself to his family and his foundation and has not renewed his contract with Onda Cero. His wife, 25 years younger, gave him a son in February 2021.
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But at some point on his way, Cadena Ser bet on a young antagonist, José Ramón de la Morena, who created a new format for the program, managing over the years to catch up, then keep up and finally overtake him. In 2002, Garcia threw in the towel, thus breaking the magic of this no-holds-barred challenge (well described in the Contrasts article). So much so that a few years later, Ramon De la Morena also lost the scepter.

Coronavirus and TV football broadcasting rights

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the championships and programme schedules of pay TV.  Now they are arguing over payment of instalments for television rights.

corriere della sera, Italy
Corriere della sera
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The Italian football clubs are preparing to sue.  At the end of April 2020 they issued invoices to Sky, Dazn and Img for a total of 220 million euros.  If unpaid, their next move will be to file an injunction of payment.  However, following a suggestion proposed by Sky, in order to give the clubs time to organise themselves, the TV stations are asking for an immediate discount on this season or the next.

Calcio Finanza, Italy
Calcio Finanza
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BeIN Sports and Canal+ in France refused to pay their last instalments (42 million and 110 million respectively) for coverage of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

Sport Business Media
Sport Business Media
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Since then, Canal+ has come to an agreement in order to avoid causing the clubs problems with liquidity.  

Discovery, in Germany, is trying to terminate their contract with Bundesliga.

In Great Britain, DAZN has asked Premier League to defer rights payments.

Altice has suspended payments in Portugal.

In Brazil, Federcalcio di San Paolo sent a letter to Globo, declaring that they will not pay the last instalment for broadcasting rights of the championship, which has been suspended due to the pandemic.