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E101 - THE FIGO - affair the transfer that changed football (Documentary)

The Netflix documentary, The Figo Affair, tells the story of one of football’s most infamous transfer stories — that of Luís Figo’s move from Barcelona to Real Madrid. The transfer of Luís Figo from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 is one of the world’s most controversial. A veritable who’s who of celebrities, superstar sportsmen and agents, The Figo Affair illuminates the facts behind the story with unprecedented insight from all sides. Luis Figo, a pillar of Spain’s famed “Dream Team”, shocked the football world when he agreed to move to their fiercest rivals, FC Barcelona and proceed from hero to villain in the eyes of many Barca fans in one fell swoop. It’s not just the goslings on the pitch, or even the goal-hanging ref, that have been through a rollercoaster of emotions this season. A documentary about football also has plenty of thrills and spills for armchair fans,

Luis Figo, Barcelona and Real Madrid: Football’s wildest transfer saga

On July 15, 2000, Luis Figo picked up his phone and asked a journalist for a favour.
Barcelona’s brightest star then invited a Catalan reporter to join his family holiday in Sardinia so he could articulate his thoughts amid the growing speculation that rivals Real Madrid would attempt to sign him. The interview ended up with an explosive front cover.
“No to Real Madrid” and “I am only going to play for Barca” were the headlines.
Nine days later, the Portugal winger, then 27, was posing in Spain’s capital with a Real Madrid shirt, next to freshly-elected president Florentino Perez and club legend Alfredo Di Stefano.
This was the end of arguably the wildest transfer saga the football industry has ever seen.
It was a tremendous battle of narratives and media pressure with the aim of achieving power and recognition. It was also the move that introduced Perez to the football world, produced the first “galactico” and created a wound that will never heal in Barcelona. It hurt feelings and boosted egos to the extent that, more than two decades on, Netflix have dissected it in a documentary, The Figo Affair

It’s been 22 years now, after all. That’s probably enough time for Figo, his agent Jose Veiga, former footballer and intermediary Paulo Futre and Perez to speak out about it. They are some of the main voices that examine the ignition of the conspiracy and every plot twist and coup behind the scenes as Figo went from being adored to Barcelona’s worst public enemy.
“Getting Figo on board was a tough and slow process,” says the documentary’s co-director, David Tryhorn. “Eventually, as we were doing the interviews with him, it was about convincing him to open up about the transfer. Whether he truly opens up… I’m not 100 per cent sure he does, but he was unbelievably helpful. He was the guy that enabled us to get Florentino, and put us in touch with Jose Veiga and Paulo Futre.”
On July 24, 2000, Real Madrid paid the £50million (then around $71.5m) release clause in Figo’s contract, which broke the £38million record set by Italian striker Christian Vieri when he moved from Lazio to Inter Milan the year before.
From 1996 to 2001 there was a transfer world record-breaking fee every summer, but Figo felt different. This was groundbreaking; a move involving two of the biggest clubs and fiercest rivals, as well as a player who would win the Ballon d’Or later that year.
It was also a reminder of how big stars are crucial to a club’s strategy and a wake-up call in the role of powerful agents and executives. If they had been able to make Barcelona’s best player join their fiercest rivals out of the blue, what couldn’t they do?
Figo was loving life in Barcelona, as his former team-mate Pep Guardiola explains in the film. Fans idolised him as one of the world’s best players and he could empathise with the club’s ethos. After he won his first league title, he rallied against Real Madrid in front of his hundreds of fans when chanting, Blancos, you toddlers, salute the champions!”.
But Camp Nou had not seen a more brutal and violent atmosphere than the one that erupted on October 21, 2000 — the first day Figo put a foot in Catalonia with a Real Madrid shirt on.

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Creators and Guests

Reese Chanson
Reese Chanson
Producer, director, writer. Basically one man production team.
E101 - THE FIGO - affair the transfer that changed football (Documentary)
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