Gov’t clears out Fútbol para Todos top brass
Four and a half years after the birth of the much debated Fútbol para Todos (Soccer for everyone) programme on the public television, Argentina’s Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich apparently decided the state-funded show was up for a make-over. Several local media have recently reported that the high official met with television king-pin and San Lorenzo club vice-president Marcelo Tinelli at the Government House. What emerged from that meeting and the rumour mill grinding the news over the last week is that the Cabinet chief has decided to change the show’s leading figures: Marcelo Araujo, Julio Ricardo and Alejandro Apo, who won’t have their contracts extended to continue heading the broadcast of the soccer matches. Another much talked-about commentator who is rumoured to be let go is Javier Vicente, whom everybody knows from his long rants against the Media Law during soccer matches.
While local media have been focusing on the changes to take place at FPT, the government has once again shown no reaction, preferring to delay the official announcement. Industry outlets trying to break the story down for readers have been hinting Argentine Football Association (AFA) President Julio Grondona requested that Araujo be granted a reprieve. On the other hand, it stands to reason that the government is likely using this delay to determine how to reshuffle the FPT team, since it cannot hire people on a whim and overnight.
Diego Latorre and Sebastián Vignolo seem to rank highest on Capitanich’s list for the new FPT heads. There is, of course, a slight impediment, since both journalists have asked to commentate on Argentina’s matches at the World Cup in Brazil later this year.
According to sources cited on Tuesday by La Nación’s sports website canchallena.com, the rest of FPT’s newsroom staff have had their contracts renewed for 2014.
Ideas del Sur, the media production company owned by Cristóbal López and Marcelo Tinelli, is expected to increase its involvement with FPT in the future and some analysts say it will take on a leading role in the show’s broadcasts after the World Cup.
Local media have had a rather tough time trying to get Government officials to confirm the changes at FPT. Names kept rolling over the last few days, from Mariano Closs to Gustavo López and Miguel Simón — they were allegedly included on a list that Capitanich and Tinelli agreed upon during their meeting. However, Grondona dismissed Closs, who has often raised his voice against the AFA — and against its president. Closs has apparently been dropped from Capitanich’s list but Grondona failed to persuade the Cabinet chief to keep Araujo at the show’s helm. On the other hand, Closs is said to be very close to Grondona’s son Humberto, who might decide to interfere and get things rolling for his friend at FPT.
A little too expensive
The changes awaiting FPT go beyond new commentators to include business adjustments. It would seem that Capitanich had a long look at the books and reached the conclusion that La Corte SRL’s production costs for each of the First and Second Division matches were on the rather inflated end. La Corte won the broadcasting bid for FPT in 2009 and allegedly received 26,500,000 pesos in the first year alone as payment for ensuring the show’s complete technical production and satellite coordination. Those numbers kept going up each year until the current figures caught Capitanich’s eye. Media sources say the Cabinet chief is in talks with other companies in order to gradually start including more ads that might partly relieve the Government of the high costs of FPT’s monetary burden.
Besides changing FPT’s helmsmen and trying to set its finances straight, the government is said to also be pondering the sale of soccer matches abroad, something that has been managed so far by the sports communication company Torneos y Competencias, a partner of Grupo Clarín in operating several sport channels, chief among which is TyC Sports.
TyC’s contract expires this year and the negotiations with the government are likely to go smoothly. Despite the Grupo Clarín association, several Torneos staff work for FPT.
Furthermore, Clarín has never stopped being an option, as a Media Ministry source told Infobae.
Víctor Hugo strikes back
Popular radio and TV host Víctor Hugo Morales, who is also a former soccer commentator, rushed to slam the news. In a personal criticism during his show on Continental, Víctor Hugo said he doesn’t like the changes at FPT and that the news “distressed” him, referring particularly to the role played by Torneos y Competencias.
“Once again Torneos y Competencias will broadcast soccer. Torneos y Competencias is not necessarily Clarín, they are 50-50 partners. I find this a bit of a shame, since they worked together in a swindle… It makes me sad to see they’re going to get the privilege to broadcast soccer matches once again. I don’t like what’s happening,” Víctor Hugo said.