The Figo Affair (2022)

‘The Figo Affair’ (2022) launched Florentino Perez

Hell hath no fury like fans scorned. Over 20 years ago, Barcelona supporters boiled over when Luis Figo betrayed their team and transferred to Real Madrid. With the flair of a thriller, The Figo Affair weaves together the few days over which the deal went down.

Directors Ben Nicholas and David Tryhorn conduct a compelling story by interviewing the principals: Luis Figo, his agent Jose Veiga, former Portuguese international Paulo Futre, and the two men running for the Presidencies of their respective clubs. Joan Gaspart was VP at Barca while Florentino Perez was an underdog candidate at Real Madrid. The ball got rolling when Perez offered to pay Figo’s 60M EUR release clause himself.

In the film, Gaspart laments that, because of the transfer, he was labeled the worst president in Barca’s history while Florentino Perez is still president of Real Madrid.

The film also covers the effect on Figo’s teammates, such as Pep Guardiola. Figo is the godfather of Pep’s son, and Pep’s honest interview makes it appear that he was indeed affected by the sudden loss of a great player and friend. The final third of the film centers on the media coverage and fan outrage, especially when Figo shows up at Camp Nou in a Madrid shirt.

After you watch this film, you can learn how the Directors got it done. Guillem Balague of The Pure Football Pod interviewed the two in Sep-2022. They explained how they fashioned the documentary like a heist film, where Perez stole “the shiny diamond” from Barca. But the mischief really started with a lie, because Veiga and Futre originated the transfer idea in order to get a 6M EUR commission on Figo’s release clause.

There is not much football in the film, and I had watched Figo in a few World Cup games, but I had only a glancing knowledge of him. He was at Barca for only 2 seasons and signed a 6-year contract with Real Madrid. He played there until 2005. He has no regrets and he is still friends with all the principals in this film, which is how the Directors got their interviews. But watching this film, you sense that 20 years after Florentino Perez used him to launch the age of Modern Football, maybe Figo realizes that money isn’t everything.

The Figo Affair is an entertaining story very well told. Watch this documentary if you need another reason to hate Florentino Perez — besides his launch of the money grab that was the European Super League.

8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8