Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Jaume Roures, the Trotskyite who holds the future of Ligue 1 in his hand

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A business genius driven by great principles, or an unscrupulous speculator seduced by power? In Spain, everyone has their opinion on Jaume Roures, head of the Sino-Spanish communication group Mediapro and holder in France of the TV rights to Ligue 1 football. One thing is certain: this frail Catalan, with round glasses and a bald head of 70 years, does not leave indifferent.

Publicized by the radical left of Podemos, which this Trotskyist allergic to the tie supports, and by the separatists, whose cause he served in the name of “Right of peoples to self-determination”, he is hated by the right, which he attacks in the documentaries he produces, by a fraction of the left, which does not appreciate his strong positions, and by a large part of the Madrid press, which is wary of his power. Him, during a meeting with The world, regrets the black legend that its “Economic or political rivals” have built from “90% of false information, and 10% which is not sure”.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Mediapro’s communication operation struggles to reassure French football

Whether they love him or vilify him, everyone salutes this media mogul’s capacity for influence. Which perhaps explains why, in Spain, and in particular in Catalonia, the press barely relayed his woes in France where, short of cash, he did not pay the 172 million euros he was committed to paying Ligue 1 to 1er October. And where he could not pay the next installment in December either, at the risk of bankrupting French football. He himself does not rule out this risk: “ The Covid is bringing the economy to ruin, not just football ”, he recalls, while wondering what the French clubs are doing on their side to adapt to the circumstances. “In Spain, they renegotiated the salaries of the players”, he emphasizes. Despite the difficulties, he remains confident in the resilience of the group he co-founded in 1994. The same that he had to show since childhood.

Undeniable flair

Born in 1950 in the Barcelona district of Raval, in the middle of brothels and thugs, it is an understatement to say that Jaume Roures grew up in poverty. An adopted child, he dropped out of school at the age of 12. As a teenager, he worked in a printing press and went through prison times under Franco. Activist of the Workers’ Front of Catalonia (FOC) then of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR), member of the IVe International, this convinced Trotskyist is involved in all fights, from opposition to the dictatorship to active mobilization against the Vietnam War. Between 1978 and 1981, he even went to Nicaragua, alongside the Sandinista revolutionaries. At the time, he was nicknamed “Melan” as “melancholy” because of his serious air, his drooping eyes and his tendency to introspection. No one then could have imagined that he would become a self-made man with undeniable flair, a formidable negotiator of millionaire contracts.

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