Rafael Nadal: Losing Immunity and Facing Controversy

February 18, 2024, 8:59 a.m.

The assumption that an extraordinary athlete is by definition an extraordinary person is one of the great evils that an important sector of journalism specialized in sports has done and continues to do to society. And to the athlete himself. It can be World Championworld record holder or the best in history in a discipline and be, at the same time, a regular person, even a Bad person.

That said: Rafael Nadal is an extraordinary athlete and a very good person, I have no doubts about that after 20 years following him on the front line in all types of tournaments, cities and circumstances. And not, no need to compare him with Nelson Mandela to affirm that Nadal is a very good person. Nor to deny it.

That said (II): 2024 is the year in which Rafael Nadal lost his immunity. Inviolability, invulnerability, protection, release, dispensation, exoneration, prerogative, privilege: all these terms explain, according to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (DRAE), what the word immunity means and implies.

Over the decades, Nadal nurtured and raised Spain’s self-esteem to notable levels. Not only because of what he did on the courts, not only because of what he earned and how he earned it: the left-handed man from Manacor was the reflection of a successful Spain on the biggest stages in the world, a Spaniard of impeccable behavior, a diverse Spanish that jumped from Catalan, in its intricate Mallorcan version and Manacorí sub-version, without problems. A Spaniard who, like so many others, stumbled over English. That made him even closer.

Nadal had his opinions on non-sports matters, of course, although he rarely expressed them. And he sold an image and a philosophy based on effort and sacrifice to achieve widespread success and respect. Except for a strong and aggressive criticism from the singer Ivan Ferreiro – “It has taken us many years to ensure that when we feel bad we do not have to go to work, so that this millionaire, in order to have a medal, tells us that it was with a broken foot” -, Nadal’s image was impeccable in the conversation public.

There was a aunspoken sanity: Spain should be proud of Nadal, grateful that he was Spanish. For many, a number of people unprecedented in his career, this is no longer the case. And it is striking that Nadal surrenders her well-earned immunity in Mecca, that he consumes it on such a metaphorical and complex altar.

To make matters worse, the player himself says that he failed to communicate the agreement with the Saudi Tennis Federation, with which he signed as an ambassador. “I don’t think I’ve disappointed people. I believe that people do not have information about things. And they say: ‘Now Rafa has also sold himself to money.'”

“Do you understand?” Ana Pastor asked him in the very revealing interview on “La Sexta.” “Of course yes. There was an error in the statement, I should have come out and explained it from the start. But since I know how society works, I’m not new to this. Let the storm pass. Will I convince them or not? Will everyone like it? “Surely not.”

Toni Nadal, his uncle and coach for almost his entire career, has one word to define the situation: hypocrisy. “There is hypocrisy,” Toni Nadal told Relevo. “And the AVE to Mecca that Spain sold to Saudi Arabia? And the journalism and coverage of the Spanish Super Cup? Why don’t they say that they don’t write about Saudi Arabia, that they do an informative boycott about what “Does it happen there?”

That journalism does not tell what happens is the denial of journalism, a decision that does not make sense to make. But Toni Nadal sticks to his guns. He believes, like his nephew, that the relationship of the best Spanish athlete of all time with an oppressive and medieval-style regime can still offer noble fruits in many aspects.

“The logical thing is that if more foreigners and more visitors come to the country, things will begin to change. And my nephew attracts visitors and tourists“, he argues, before remembering that in the West equality between men and women is a recent novelty: “A long time ago in Spain, women had to ask men for permission to work.”

The Nadals are island conservatives, like so many other people who are conservative. And that is neither bad nor good, in democracy you can be conservative and liberal, right-wing and left-wing. An ideology, a way of seeing the world, does not make you better than the other. It makes you left or right, liberal, conservative or progressive.

But having Saudi Arabia as a sieve, as proof of who you are, is, in terms of image, perhaps even bolder than thinking about winning Roland Garros 14 times. It is true: the Saudi Arabia of today is not the same as it was 20 years ago, nor is the Spain of 50 years ago. But the questions are still there: Is it worth it, does it make sense, does it make sense to consider that in ten or 15 years we will know the answer?

It is heard that the president of the Saudi Tennis Federation (yes, she is a woman) is an extraordinary person, with great sensitivity, a strong personality and good intentions. How good it would have been for Nadal to appear next to Areej Mutabagani explaining some things to many people who today look at him with disappointment and distrustbut also to those who continue to admire him unconditionally.

Buenos Aires, 1971. Although outside of sports topics he has an intense journalistic life, Sebastián Fest fell in love with journalism covering sports. And he is still in love. Former head of Sports for the German agency DPA and the Argentine newspaper “La Nación”, he covered all the soccer World Cups since 1998 and all the Olympic Games since 1996, in addition to more than 60 Grand Slam tournaments in tennis. Author of ‘Neither king nor god’ and ‘Messiánico’, biographies of Lionel Messi, and of ‘Sin red’, a journey of more than a decade around the world following Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He was co-president of the International Tennis Journalists Association (ITWA), which brings together the one hundred most influential journalists in the world. Founder of CLAY (, a site in English and Spanish specialized in tennis and with global reach, he was also Chief Editor of the site Around the Rings, specialized in high sports politics. In addition to Spanish, he is fluent in German, English and Portuguese reasonably well. …

2024-02-18 07:59:12
#Rafael #Nadals #lost #immunity #Relief


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