Mourinho Reputation. The Impact of UEFA Disciplinary Case in Real Madrid Image

Still some hours to go for the last one of the four Clasicos Real Madrid FC Barcelona, for a classification for the Champions League final 2011 in Wembley (note updated in the following days).

First game of the semi final games between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona created controversy, as Real Madrid player Pepe received a red card and was expulsed. Real Madrid coach José Mourinho contested this decision in the pitch and also received a red card. In the aftermatch press conference José Mourinho accused FC Barcelona and UEFA of unfair conditions favorable to FC Barcelona and opposed to him and his teams.

We show here the transcription of these statements published in site:

The press conference accusations

“Why do they try to kill a tie that could end 0-0 after three hours?”

Carlos Cristobal / Translation by Michael J. O’Donnell

Jose Mourinho was visibly angy after his team’s defeat against Barcelona.

“Why does this happen? Barcelona are a fantastic team. I don’t understand why Pepe was sent off. It paved the way for Barcelona to finish the tie.”

“I said nothing to the referee. I just laughed and applauded his decision without saying anything. I’d rather say no more because if I tell him and UEFA what I really think my career would end here and now. Since I cannot say it, I’ll ask a question: Why? Why Ovrebo? Why Bussaca? We are talking about an absolutely fantastic football team. Why couldn’t Chelsea reach the final two years ago? It was a miracle that Inter reached the final last year. Why kill a tie that could end 0-0 after three hours? I don’t understand why.”

“If it’s already difficult to make a comeback on purely sporting grounds, it is absolutely impossible when our opponent is helped in this manner. It seems they must reach the final. I don’t understand why such a fantastic team needs this. Football is a sport in which the same rules apply to all; then the best team wins. (…) The system will kill us once more if we happen to score a goal and open up the tie.”

“(…) Barcelona’s power should have been simply of a football nature. They have that power. Why use more?”

There was also a veiled accusation that FC Barcelona could gain special treament at UEFA because its sponsorship with Unicef of because Angel Villar was a directive of UEFA (some media accuse Villar, Spanish Football Federation president to be biased towards FC Barcelona). “Josep Guardiola es un fantástico entrenador de fútbol pero ha ganado una Champions que a mi me daría vergüenza ganar con el escándalo de Stamford Bridge. Y este año, si la gana, será con el escándalo del Bernabéu. (…) Hoy ha quedado demostrado que ante el Barcelona no tienes ninguna posibilidad. Porque la UEFA no deja a ninguno de los otros equipos jugar contra ellos. No entiendo por qué. No sé si es la publicidad a Unicef, no sé si es porque son muy simpáticos…” (Press Conference trascription by Marca)

UEFA opened the following day a disciplinary case in relation with “the inappropriate statement given by Mr Mourinho to the media after the match (UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, Article 5 – Principles of conduct)”. The case “will be heard by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body on Friday 6 May” (UEFA website).

Real Madrid reacted fully backing José Mourinho accusations, and presented a formal complaint to UEFA arguing that unsportsmanlike tactics by FC Barcelona players influenced the referee against Real Madrid. The communiqué supporting José Mourinho accusations is presented advocating freedom of speech:

“Upon learning of the unprecedented decision by F. C. Barcelona to lodge a formal complaint against Real Madrid C. F. coach Jose Mourinho with the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body, Real Madrid C. F. announces that it is obligated to follow suit concerning the repeated unsportsmanlike behavior of F. C. Barcelona, whose players consistently feigned aggressions with the sole purpose of misleading the referee of the match, which clearly led to the unfair decision to dismiss our player Pepe.”

“It is surprising that this chain of unsportsmanlike conduct and unfortunate decisions finally culminates in the lodging of a complaint against our coach Jose Mourinho who, beyond opinions based on his right to freedom of speech, expressed his objection to victory at any price and the violation of the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship established in Art. 7 of the Preamble of the Statutes of UEFA and Art. 5 of its Disciplinary Regulations, by which Real Madrid C. F. expresses its full support of its coach.” (Real Madrid website).

Analysts diverge concerning the estimation of the sanction that will be imposed by UEFA to José Mourinho. According to newspapers published in Madrid, he could be suspended for three games (Marca) or four games (AS). According to press in Barcelona, suspension could range between 4 and 8 games, or even inhabilitation for six months (Javier Giraldo, Sport), or between 4 and 6 games or six months of inhabilitation (El Mundo Deportivo)

Impact on José Mourinho’s media reputation

Using our measurement and analysis techniques, we want to show the impact of this investigation of UEFA against José Mourinho in his media reputation. As Real Madrid is backing José Mourinho statement, we propose an analysis on how this press conference can become a reputation crisis for Real Madrid image.

Spanish media is probably partisan in this sensitive issue. The media coverage given in Spain to this affaire is probably not useful for determining the imapct of the investigation case, as readers can choose the media interpretation of the events and their causes following their own preferences.

We consider that for analysing this eventual reputation crisis the relevant source of information comes from non Spanish media. Thus, in this post we propose to tackle the impact of this affaire in media perception on José Mourinho and Real Madrid image by  media from English speaking countries.

We show first some results concerning Jose Mourinho’s media reputation just before the start of these four Classicos almost in a row. We show his media reputation concerning some brand vectors from news published in April 2011. We compare it to media reputation during the first halt of this season (news from August 2010 to December 2010). Please refer to precedent posts about reputation for the interpretation of the results (big diamonds indicate higher degree of media association to the brand vector).

Pre Clasico situation was slighly poor against mid season situatiojn concerning vctor “Spectacular” and similar as for “Talented”.

As for vectors associated to bad image, there was already an increase of pressure in comparison with first mid season, with higher degres of association to “Scandal” and “Tragedy”.

How media perception has evolved between April 18 2011 and today, May 3 2011?

We have had in between three Real Madrid -FC Barcelona, a null game in the Liga game, which was a good result for FC Barcelona title aspirations. Then Real Madrid won 1-0 the secong game, giving to José Mourinho his first championship: the Copa del Rey title. Mourinho was praised by many for his tactical disposition of the game. Then followed the mentioned controversial game.

We find first that the sport success has increased his association to positive brand vectors like “Spectacular”.

But at the same time, the association of José Mourinho to negative brand vectors has increased  steadily, day by day. We observe an substantial increase of “Scandal” components like harm, mistake, scandalous. As for “Tragedy”, we find an increase of components catastrophic, tragedy and worst.

The empirical evidence is clear: the impact of the press conference is damaging Mourinho’s media reputation. We show in the following figures that this bad perception really comes from the media impact of his accusations to UEFA and FC Barcelona.

We show the same brand vectors, but now comparing Mourinho’s media reputation just in the aftermath of the first semi final game against FC Barcelona, against news directly related to the UEFA disciplinary case (again, only using news from English speaking countries, not from Spain).

Results clearly indicate that news about the UEFA disciplinary case dramatically increase Mourinho’s association to brand vectors “Scandal” and “Tragedy”, in a very similar way than global media profile of the Portuguese coach this last week.

We add a third brand vector, “Coherent, Respected”. As we have explained in past post where we have used it, “Coherent, Respected” brand vector shows a two-sides behaviour. It appears with high degree of association for some persons and institutions linked to social profile (like NGO, or personalities like Mother Teresa), but it also increases substantially when evaluation events or institutions where values become an issue and are source of critizism. For instance, we showed that this happens with brands with bad reputation in terms of human rights, like Abu Ghraib.

The results applied to how media is portraying the impact of Mourinho infamous press conference indicate that it is perceived as an issue concerning values, that we group inside the vector “Coherent, Respected”. We find that the vector components more exposed to the disciplinary case are trust, fairness and ethical, and slighly less also for coherent. The association with dignity and compassion is reduced in comparison with media percpetion before the case exploded.

Impact on Real Madrid media reputation

We conclude that the UEFA disciplinary case is seriously harming José Mourinho public image, as deducted from the content analysis of news published in English.

The second logical step in the analysis is to consider if this affaire can also affect negatively Real Madrid international media reputation. Again, we count with the tools to answer this question using MRI Universidad de Navarra data and techniques.

Now we show the results referring to the monitoring of all news published in English about Real Madrid. Like for Mouringo, we count with the media profile of Real Madrid (and many other sport teams) for season 2010/11. We show here media perception associatd to the brand Real Madrid just before the begining of four Clasicos Real Madrid Vs FC Barcelona in merely 18 days. Its initial media reputation (by 18 April) was roughly similar to that offered during the season. In order to check the impact of the press conference controversy we compare media perception by 18 April (before the Clasicos), against media perception by 29 April (after first 3 games, including Copa del Rey winning and title for Rel Madrid, and game lost at home by Real Madrid 2-0 at Champions League competition, with Pepe expulsed and Mourinho denonciations), and against 4 May, just after the last game with FC Barcelona, and Real Madrid elimination.

We show first the example of one of the positive brand vectors. This is “Talented, Smart”. We find that the first three games increased association of brand Real Madrid to “talented”, as probable effect of the Copa del Rey success. It increases especially components acclaimed, skilled, talented, unique and genious. The association with this positive value decreased after five days in components skilled and unique.

As for the association with the negative brand vectors “Scandal” and “Tragedy”, we find that is has been continually growing during this three weeks. We observe a substantial deterioration of Real Madrid media reputation in the following components: scandalous, mistake, harm, awful, horrible and failure.

So, both media reputation of Real Madrid and José Mourinho have suffered notable deteriotation. How do they relate? We compare their negative brand vectors together.

We find that the association to “Scandal” and “Tragedy” is bigger for news referred to Mourinho than for news referred to Real Madrid. Mourinho is more associated than Real Madrid to the following negative components: scandalous, harm, mistake, corruption and worrying. We have shown that in both brands the association is steadily increasing. The dynamics show that this is Mourinho who is producing this movement affecting also Real Madrid global reputation.

Impact on Real Madrid international image

We complete the analysis proposing a complementary check. We study now the profile of news where journalists write specifically about Real Madrid image. These are only a fraction of all news about Real Madrid shown just above. But they are specially revealing because this set of articles are directly judgding the impact of the affaire in Real Madrid image.

The position of international media is extremely severe. We compare brand reputation of articles concerning Real Madrid image against all articles about Real Madrid just before the start of the four games.

Results show that right now international media associate strongly Real Madrid to “Scandal” and “Tragedy” brand vectors. The degree of association explodes, notably for all components of the vector “Scandal”. Media judge that the affaire is sending a terribly negative image of Real Madrid.

We obtain similar negative results confronting the analysis with the vector “Coherent, Respected”. As mentioned before, quick increases of association to this vector reflect that the issue in the news contains a lot of ethical and social values considerations. The increse in this case does not reflect a positive association but rather the opposite. We find than news about Real Madrid image are highly sensitive to “Coherent, Respected” brand vector.

Only in this case, news referring explicitly to Real Madrid image show a worse media reputation profile than Mourinho, as shown in the graphs comparing them concerning “Scandal” and “Respected”.

Another additional piece of evidence of the impact of the disciplinary case in Real Madrid international image is the tiem evolution of another media reputation, “Arrogant”, which is not included in the figures shown in the post. As mentioned, we count with different measures concerning media reputation, but we present in the post only some of them.

Blue line refers to the degree of association concerning all news about José Mourinho. The starting point just before the 4 Clasicos was situated at a 0.3 level. It increased vigourosely after the controversial game and the after match press conference, reaching a peak of 0.57 by the end of April. What our results also show is how this movement has been transmited to all news referring to Real Madrid (red line). Before the Clasicos there was almost not media associati0n between the brand Real Madrid and “Arrogant” (a value of 0.1). In the new measurement we made by May 4 we find that the association has jumped to 0.4, and it is somehow decreasing these last two days.

If we focus the analysis solely to the international news about Real Madrid dealing explicitly in the news article with image issues, we find that they drive massively image issues to “Arrogant”. In the aftermath of the turmoil it reached a high value 0.5, but since then it has been increasing steadily reaching by May 6 a 0.7 value. This is with news before the anouncement and knowing Real Madrid reaction to the decision.

To our understanding, the empirical evidence is undisputable: Mourinho statements and the disciplinary case is harming not only the coach, but also Real Madrid international media image.

Perfect storm conditions for a reputation crisis

Now is Thursday 5 May, one day ahead of the decision by UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body cocnerning the santions for José Mourinho’s accusations during the press conference in the aftermath of the semi final first game against FC Barcelona.

We have conducted this reputation crisis analysis because, depending on the extent of the sanctions imposed, this can be an event of reputation crisis with major media impact. There is a sum of circumstance that ensures a probably unprecedented media coverage of news with bad content.

Here the list of facts and circumnstances that makes easily predictable a strong international media exposure.

1. Mounrinho was already the leading coach in terms of media impact.

According to results gathered by our research center, Mourinho is the coach that has received the biggest amount of media attention during the first half of this season 2010/11. We show below the ranking published in our report about Media value in Football, Mid-Season 2010/11 (english press note, or extended sumary in Spanish). This means that as Mourinho is the most well known coach, all public intervention reaches media all over the world. Josep Guardiola took place number 4.

2. This was a game and a controversy affecting the two leading football brands in the world in terms of media impact.

The results from the mentioned report show that by mid-season, FC Barcelona was the leading brand in the world in terms of media impact, followed by Real Madrid. All news referring one of these two clubs are always magnified and receive coverage in many countries. Media exposure explodes when the news relate both teams.

We have shown in our analysis, that in professional sports, media impact is one of the best proxies for establishing the commercial power of a sport institution.

3. The Champions League is the main sport competition in the world in terms of media coverage, and the controversy affected the latests stages of this competition, that attract media from all over the world.

4. The world media attention was exarcerbated by the exceptional combination of four games FC Barcelona Real Madrid in just 18 days whith three main titles at stake. The game with the controversy was the third one.

5. Finally, as it has been pointed out at the beginning of this post, Real Madrid as institution did not correct the coach statement, and decided to fully support the declarations. It reinforced this position by reacting with a formal complaint against FC Barcelona for “unsportsmanlike conduct” of players seen as origin of all problems. While UEFA did not accept this complaint, this institutional allignment with the accusations that UEFA is adopting unfair decisions against José Mourinho and Real Madrid interests has had as direct implication a fueling of the issue with increase media impact of the disiciplinary case. As we have shown above, bad media perception of the disciplinary case is not encapsulated to the coach but is also reaching the institution.

All these conditions announce a huge media impact of tomorrow UEFA decision. We guess that media impact will be more notable if suspension excede more than four games. Apparently, Real Madrid is ready to maintain the same attitude in this issue, as it has announced today that it is asking for a review of UEFA rejection of its complaint. The case will be seen by May 16, which implies a new series of statements related with the affaire.

We count with several similar cases in the sports of reputation crisis that recive massive media exposure due to the fact that they affect global brands. Epythome is Tiger Woods. At Economics, Sport and Intangibles research group, ESI Universidad de Navarra, the research branch oriented specifically to measure media impact and reputation analysis in the sport field, we have conducted several analysis of the impact of sport scandalas ans reputation crisis, and their implication on sponsors. They refer to the impact of doping cases in Tour de France (2007), and the impact of the spionage investigation against Vodafone McLaren in Formula 1 (2008). You can downlods the reports by clicking on the cover page images.

Empirical findings where striking. As shown in the following two figures, the media impact of the sanction to Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes was equivalent to 8 times winning a Grand Prix. Concerning Tour de France, cyclist excluded by doping cases received higher global media attention than the winner of the competition, Alberto Contador.

Again, the severity of the sanction will determine the extent of the global media impact of the current reputation crisis. Once the sanction is fixed, we will provide empirical evidence about the impact.

Potential impact on Real Madrid sponsorship deals

We need to wait for knowing the exact extent of the sanctions in order to assess the reputation impact of this crisis. But if it is not resolved positively in the short run, it could make media perception about Real Madrid to be more sustained attached to actual association with brand vector “Scandal”.

We want to analyze here the eventual impact of a long term association of Real Madrid brand to actual perceived image into its relation with companies that have sponsorship deals with the football club.

We have proceed in the past with similar sport sponsorship analysis, like sponsorship of FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa (chapter 7, p. 107-122, in Spanish) or the sponsorship agreement FC Barcelona with Seiko.

You can click in the images below to download the reports.


We show some examples of the combination of media brand reputation of the comapnies sponsoring Real Madrid. Sponsorship deals with sport brands are searched by companies as means for increasing brand notoriety trough media exposure, and increase of brand equity by brand values association between the sport brand and the sponsoring firm. Top brands look mainly to protect and increase brand value by chosing partners sharing similar brand reputation.

Our analysis comparing media perception of Real Madrid and sponsoring firms show how this eventual association of brand values can happen in practice. Simply, if Real Madrid presents better media reputation than the sponsoring firm in a given brand vector, the sponsorship agreement becomes a potential correct tool for increasinf brand value.

Ths brand value association between sport brand and sponsoring firms is expected to be positive. But it can eventually become negative, when negative brand values from the sport brand may affect the sponsoring firm, also by transmission of media percpetion values.

In our study case, we measure not only the benefits of the sponsorship deals with Real Madrid, but also the eventual damages that the companies may face is the current scandal-profile of news associated to Real Madrid is maitained in time.

We do not run here a complete co-branding analysis, as this is not the aim of the post, but we just pick some examples related to positive and negative reputation vectors.

First case is Bwin, the main sponsor and jersey sponsor.

Media reputation associated to “Spectacular” is substantially higher for Real Madrid than for BWin. The online betting firm is definitively benefiting from its sponsosrship relationship with Real Madrid.

Concerning the negative image vectors “Scandal” and “Tragedy”, we find that in normal times thery are not associated to these vectors. Bwin has some bad reputation concerning corruptioon, worst and failure that affects negatively Real Madrid brand value. Present association of Real Madrid image to negative brand vectors is worse than for Bwin.

Nevertheless, we considered that even if bad image associated to Real Madrid persisted for a while is it probably not seriously dammaging for Bwin brand equity and insterests: Bwin is conscious that it has a low profile brand image intrinsically associated to its business industry (gambling and betting). It cannot be dramatically improved. But real Madrid deal provides some legitimacy and besides all, visibility, which is with no bout the main goal pursued: to increase and maintain brand notoriety.

Next partnership analysed is with carmaker Audi (Volskwagen group).


Our data concerning “Spectacular” confirms that Audi enjoy of an excellent media reputation concerning this brand vector. In normal times is even better than Real Madrid in many components. The impact of 4 Clasicos and the controversy increases the association of Real Madrid to “Spectacular”, which benefits the co-branding alliance.

The impact of the controversy on negative values may be by contrast harmful for the profitability of the sponsorship collaboration. If present negative values of Real Madrid persisted this would be  problem for Audi. In contrast with Bwin, reputation is a mejor issue for this top quality brand. Some components of “Tragedy” like catastrophic and horrible present bad records for Audi brand. This is a typical result in the automotive industry, at is related in somes cases to traffic accidents, casualties and insecurity.

Adidas is also a major sponsor of Real Madrid.


Reputation analysis shows a result very similar to the one performed with Audi. All three brands excel in terms of assocation with “Spectacular”.

Concerning negative brand values, we find again that in normal times, Adidas and Real Madrid are not associated to “Scandal” or “Tragedy”. Current situation is thus not benefitial for the agreement. This negative impact is probably less harmful for Adidas than for Audi. Adidas reaches a different target than Audi. Composed mainly of young people and young adults, a slighly provocative profile can be more easily accepted than for Audi consumers. This is not to say of course that this new situation is positive for Adidas insterests.

Sanctions imposed by UEFA Disciplinary Body

According to UEFA press release by Friday 6 May, UEFA has fixed a sanction of five games of suspension, and imposes a fine of €50,000.

We will show in another post the media coverage impact and media reputation impact of this decision.

Other posts about sport brands, sponsorship and crisis

Sport Scandals and Sponsorship. The Audacious Move by Saxo Bank Supporting Suspended Alberto Contador

FIFA Bribery Case: Media Reputation Analysis