What Coentrao at Bayern Munich Vs Real Madrid Football Champions League Is Telling About Social Media Reputation

Bayern Munich (Germany) played against Real Madrid (Spain) the first leg of the two games semifinals of the 2012 UEFA Champions League in the Allianz Arena, Munich, the 17 April 2012.

Bayern Munich won the match 2-1 scoring the winning goal in the last minute. The goal was scored by Mario Gomez, receiving a ball centered by teammate Lahm. This advance may be decissive for classifying for the grand final or at least offers more chances to Bayern Munich. Lahm succeeded in doing this pass after overcoming the Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao. Many people considered this move as a big defensive mistake by Postuguese Coentrao. His game performance was considered very poor as he commited other mistakes.

For readers not familiar with European football, you have a couple of pictures from the game. In the first photo, Fabio Coentrao (right) defending a ball against Ribery (left)

Journalists identified Coentrao as main responsible for Real Madrid losing the game. Real Madrid coach José Mourinho made a strong defense of Coentrao’s commitment and performance in the match, in the press conference after the match.

Answering to a journalist about Coentrao’s mistake in the crucial last action, Mourinho responds:

‘Estoy lejos, pero no me gusta la pregunta porque hay mucha gente que ha cometido errores durante el partido. Coentrao ha hecho un buen partido, ha tenido una tarea difícil y ha cumplido’

(I don’t like this question, because there are many other players that made mistakes during the game. Coentrao had a good performance in the pitch; he had ahard task and he did it).

‘No merecimos perder’, El Mundo, 17 April 2012

Journalists and aficionados did not share the positive analysis by José Mourinho and evaluated Fabio Coentrao performance in a very negative way. We have for instance the rating provided by both journalists and readers from leading sport daily in Spain, Marca. This is a newspaper published in Madrid. It has a national reach, but it uses to be the preferred newspaper by Real Madrid followers, altogether with AS, as it provides an extensive and supportive coverage to Real Madrid. In a scale 1 to 10, journalists give 1 point to Coentrao (the following player in low rating is Marcelo, with 4 points). These extremely negative views are shared by readers. They rate Coentrao performance with 2.2 points. The results correspond to 25,000 votes. (Encuestra Bayern Munich – Real Madrid, Marca)

We show the results from a second source. They come from newspaper El Mundo, one of the leading newspapers in Spain. This is again the ratings given by the readers in on-line edition. This is a scale 0 to 10. We find that the main score given is 0 points, in one third of some 2,900 votes. Average rating of all votes is again 2.2 points. Rating given by journalists at El Mundo was this time 4 points. (Encuesta Valoración Real Madrid, El Mundo)

Almost all people agree that Fabio Coentrao offered a poor performance in a crucial game. Critics are amplified because the global performance of this player for all season was under discussion and scrutiny already before the game. Coentrao suffers from the fact that he was hired at the beginning of this season after Real Madrid paid an stounding sum as transfer fee for a defender: 30 million euros (some 38 million US$).

We will not discuss in this post about football or about reputation and media crisis linked to football players. We wanted to show another example of the knowledge that it can be gathered from capturing sentiments in the social media, using adequate framework of analysis.

We do not pretend -at all- to present these results as a kind of scientific survey about opinions and sentiments. The results we provide in this post are not representative. They are not representative as Twitter community is not a fully representative sample of global Spanish society and opinion in Spain. Twitter community is biased as it corresponds to not representative sample of age, education and maybe ideology. Results are not representative because active Twitter users share specific characteristics. Results are not representative as Twitter users participating actively in Trending Topic issues present different characteristics and interests than average Twitter community. For instance, I am an active twitter user for professionaly oriented topics, and I normally do not contribute in TT issues. Results are not representative because the dynamics of Trendic Topics may affect strongly the ‘bad examples’ chosen as references: leading tweets specially funny that receive a substantial amount of RT tend to appear in main Twitter page. Like this, they exert an influence on other people willing to writte new tweets, and are often reused with the introduction of some variations, or simply by copying them. Results are not representative because they rely in a rather limited number of tweets.

We are quite aware that our results are not representative. But we also consider that our results are illustrative, and that they provide relevant insights revealing positive or negative reputation and image of personalities and institutions. Results also show light about the problems currently indentified as such, identify hot topics in the social media and provide an indirect measure of relevance of brands.

A Twitter Trending Topic as means to reveal brands with negative reputation

The interesting point is that, as in many other cases, a lot of issues related with the Bayern Munich – Real Madrid Game became trending topics (TT) in Twitter in Spain (and probably elsewere). Coentrao emerged as one of the recurrent issues in the Twitter after game. Late in the night someone created a specific hashtag (HT), #SiLoComparasConCoentrao; ‘si lo comparas con Coentrao’ (If you compare it/her/him with Coentrao…). So, the poor sport performance as perceived by many people in Twitter (and of course, by rivals of Real madrid) was translated into one of the typical satiric and spoof oriented HT, using Coentrao as essence of something really bad. The terms of comparison were other bad things, situations or persons, that in the tweets became almost good in comparison to Fabio Coentrao.

Our strategy consisted in identifying which where the ‘bad, but no as bad as Coentrao’ people, institutions or situations that Twitter users picked as epytome of bad, ugly, or poorly performing. Publishing tweets in TT dynamic spoof HT has its own rules, as people want to share funny short text with other people in order to contribute in creating momentum in the TT debate, one of the essences of microblogging. Some people are looking for others’ reward in terms of winning retweets (RT). Some other take advantadge of TT debate for sending their own political/social views, acting as social media influencers.

The selection of the specific figure opposed to Coentrao is a way to reveal us some information about the social media reputation of politicians, celebrities, corporations and brands, or institutions. We present in this post some of the results that we have reached monitoring #SiLoComparasConCoentrao.


We open our analysis by checking which are the references identified as real evil, by the citation to dictators. Our results in the figure show that the epytome of evil is Hitler, as he concentrates some 80% of all mentions to dictators, with 219 tweets. This also means that Twitter community in Spain considers that this dictator can be used for jokes in some contexts. Second in the list is Spanish Francisco Franco, with 33 mentions. Third is Bin Laden, with 26. Other dictators monitored receive limited social media attention. Running a soft socio-political analysis, we find that the local dictator Francisco Franco, who was the Head of State between 1939-1975 is considered by many as the best representation of evil in politics, but right now, 37 years after his death, he is not the top-of-mind brand for the majority of people, as this infamous ‘honor’ goes to Adolf Hitler.

Politics and Economic Problems in Spain

The second set of cases we analyse using Coentrao’s mocking hashtag is linked to politics and references to economic problems in Spain.

We show first results concerning politicians and political parties in Spain.

We find that current Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, is the leading reference in this section, with 161 tweets. Second in importance is his predecessor, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, with 99 appearances. In both cases, they appear as example in Coentrao HT of bad Government. When explaining why, tweets about Rajoy refer mainly to the severity of budget cuts, while tweets about Zapatero accuse him of lack of leadership and responsibilty for not addressing the present economic problems that Spain is suffering.

Former Prime Ministers play a minor role. José María Aznar, who is normally attacked by leftist oriented people due to his conservative government and to his support to George Bush in Iraq war, receives just 6 mentions. Socialist long standing Prime Minister Felipe González appears just once. Twitter joke tweets are strongly stick to ongoing events, and concentrate ‘attacks’ to politicians with ongoing public responsibilities. We find also that Rajoy, more than his Government attract users’ reaction, as direct mentions to ‘Government’ are just 63. We have also checked the presence of tweets about individual Ministers of Mariano Rajoy government. All of them generate just 20 tweets, and ‘accused’ ministers are Ana Mato (Health) and José Ignacio Wert (Education and Culture).

Mentions to individual political parties are limited in comparison to references to present and prior Prime Ministers. References to governing conservative party PP are 41, or four times less than references to Rajoy. References to socialist party PSOE, the leading party in the parliamentary oppostion are 8. There are almost no references to other parties (one reference to IU, a confederatio of leftists parties including communist party PCE.

We move now to the analysis of problems directly related to Spain that are chosen by TT microbloggers as bad events deserving to be compared to Coentrao performance.

Direct references to Spain as suffering problems count 348 tweets. They include a wide array of problems. Comparing to previous figures, explicit references to problems Spain are higher than any other issue. We have monitores the presence of specific problems. Main individual reference is to ‘crisis0, with 194 mentions. If we look into specifi problems, we find that people identify unemployment as  main evil, with 114 mentions. Remember that spain is facing right now an unemployment rate of 23% active labor force, the highest in Europe, above rescued countries like Greece and Portugal. As a way to evaluate the extent of the ongoing crisis, consider that unemployment rate bottomed to 8.1% in year 2006 (source: Indexmundi). Second individual problem most widely mentioned are the cuts in public expenditures approved by the current Government in order to reduce drastically the current deficits and meet international commitments. By comparison, direct mentions to harf due to increased taxes appear in mere four tweets. As for public policies, we find that health and education problems due to recently announced new cuts appear 50 times, half the size of mentions to cuts and to unemployment.

Politics and politicians as main evil in Spain appear in a non negligeable way, with 40 mentions. By contrats, there is a relative low presence of mentions to corruption (11 tweets).

Problems linked to deficit financing and risks of mention play a marginal role in spoofs using Coentrao HT.

Finally, we observe a strong presence of a very recent problem created for the Spanish economy: the expropriation of YPF from Spanish oil company Repsol, by the Government of Cristina Kirchner in Argentina. It receives 153 mentions as epitome of a bad thing for Spain. This is more social media attention than references to unemployment. Of course, this result is affected by the effect of the recent annoucement, as social media debates are very sensitive in the short term.

Spanish Royal Family

The Royal Family in Spain is being battered since 2011 by an incredible amount of problems highly sensitive to public opinion. They are dramatically influencing the state of public opinion about the role of King Juan Carlos, the  Royal family and eventually the role of monarchy in Spain.

Very recent events have created strong negative reaction and has fuelled social media debate, discussion, attacks and mockery. Iñaki Urdangarín, married with Infanta Cristina, a daughter of King Juan Carlos is under current investigation fro allegation of corruption in business affairs. Just a week ago Felipe Juan Froilán, the son of Infanta Elena, was injured by a bullet in his feet while manipulating a shotgun. The problem in term of reputation was that he is 13 years old and such hunting arms are prohibited to younger than 14 years old. Finally, last 14 April 2012, news announced that King Juan Carlos broke his hip, during a private trip in Botswana. Son later people learnt that the King was participating in a safari hunt chassing elephants. Nor the trip neither the goal of the trip was publicly announced before the incident happened. This fact provoked an extraordinary reaction in social media channels, as many people considered outrageous such a luxurious occupation while the spanish economy is shrinking, unemployment rate are at all time highs and ordinary people is affected by aggressive cuts in public expenditures. Other consider intolerable the killing of elephants.

So, the monarchy is experiencing right now probably the most critical situation never experienced in Spain in terms of reputation, prestige and social acceptance. We show now how this context has been translated into the debate and spoofs around the hasgtag #SiLoComparasConCoentrao.

Our results suggest that debate and anger about ongoing issues in relation with the Spanish Royal family are serious. We find some 640 mentions to King Juan Carlos as someone as bad or worse than Coentrao football perfomance. Comparing this value with all previously shown shows that the current crisis of the monarchy is strongly felt by the social media community.

Some tweets about the King show anger, but many other are just jokes and mockery. In any case, it is clear that it is not good for the health and reputation of the monarchy as institution to become the preferred source of mockery and spoof.

Second member of the royal family most mentionned is Froilán, with 381 tweets. Of course the profile of tweets about Froilán are mainly oriented to jokes about the accident, and not negative tweets considering the kid as an evil example.

Iñaki Urdangarín comes just fourth, with 35 tweets. The fact that Urdangarín case was during the previous months the reputation nightmare for the Spanish royal family and despite that it receives some 20 times less social media attention than King Juan Carlos. This is a measure of how sensitive is the elephant hunting case in the social media arena, and how relevant it is for monarchy reputation in Spain.