• Report A 14-gram sensor, up to 24 cameras, 400 sends per second... This is the ball that will change football forever

The final of the last US Open ends and the defeated, Aryna Sabalenka, congratulates the new champion, Coco Gauff, leaves the court with elegance, maintains the manners in the corridors, arrives at the locker room and there, with the door closed, transforms and breaks her racket with rage, angry, unleashed. She thinks she's already alone, but no. We're all seeing it. "Those images should not have come to light. It's a private moment in an empty locker room," said Judy Murray, a former tennis player and former coach of her sons Jamie and Andy Murray.

The Athletic-Real Madrid of the first day of the League is about to start and the players of the local team form in a circle in their dressing room so that the captain, Iker Muniain, prays the Our Father. The ritual comes from afar and is broadcast for the first time. Those present, it seems, do not know that they are live. "The dressing room is something personal, something private, something for us. You may be praying and you don't want anyone to know. Players have hobbies that we don't want to come to light. I don't like it, I feel uncomfortable," says the goalkeeper of the team and Spain, Unai Simon.

These are two examples, but there are many, increasingly. Where is the limit? In pursuit of the spectacle, cameras and microphones are invading spaces around the sport hitherto inaccessible – changing rooms, benches, call cameras, assistance cars ... – and multiple protagonists have already shown their discomfort. Last November, even, Sky Sport Italia showed Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny naked in the preview of a match and he later appealed to his rights. Entertainment versus privacy. A growing debate that goes beyond modesty and that, according to the protagonists, has a journey. Somehow it's changing the sport.

"In my opinion, it affects performance. I've never agreed with cameras in timeouts, but I find them in the locker room horrifying. The communication between a coach and his players changes, the way everyone behaves changes, everything is more artificial, more tense, everything is different, "argues Jota Cuspinera, former coach of Fuenlabrada, Zaragoza or Estudiantes, who remembers the beginning of the controversy in basketball.

"That 'Put the mic in there!'

"When they started recording the timeouts they assured us it was to better explain the game and almost all the coaches accepted. Aíto García Reneses, for example, already said no, that he would pay the fines that were necessary, but that he did not want to be recorded. I was right. With that mythical 'Put the microphone there!' of Ramón Trecet we already saw that what mattered was not the game, it was the morbidity, "argues Cuspinera who has in mind when cameras began to enter the changing rooms and his players decided, as a protest, to receive them "in balls". "By the fifth game the cameras were already waiting outside. The dressing room is our living room or, rather, our bathroom. No stranger should get into the bathroom with you without consent. Also, what does recording a player who has just lost and is sunk? We have gone from selling sport to selling pure morbidity," proclaims Cuspinera.

The multiplication of images of athletes before and after their matches, in training or even at home with their families is the answer to the dominant paradigm a few years ago. From the times when the fans could attend training and chat with the stars – football, tennis, motorcycling ... – they went to secrecy and the link was broken. The solution was to make the proximity profitable: now paying you can witness interiorities, feel the athletes as close again. The international success of documentaries such as Drive to Survive or Sunderland 'Til I Die is an example; in Spain, the best example is the popularity of Movistar after its El día menos pensado.

"They are two different paths. In documentaries we can edit the images, the direct ones are something else. There it is more difficult to find the balance, "says Pablo Ordorica, marketing director of Movistar. "Young people don't want an open plane, they want to be in the action. Soon we will see an on-board camera of the directors' cars and hear what they say to their cyclists by the live pinganillos. It makes sense, but it will surely change communications. In addition, this loss of privacy must compensate the teams economically, "says Ordorica and he is right. In the last Tour de France, the organization already wanted to emit the sound of the pinganillos as if they were Formula 1 radios and several teams – including Movistar – refused because the reward did not reach 1,000 euros. Real Madrid voted against the entry of cameras in the changing rooms because, although the League promised that it will allocate a part of the television rights to it, it is not yet defined how the distribution will be. What if it's really not worth it?

"There will be legal conflict"

Athletes sell their image rights to their teams, competitions, televisions and so far there have never been official protests. But in the not too distant future perhaps someone will come to the conclusion that, in the signed contract, he did not show himself in the locker room, for example. And a complaint may come for violation of the right to privacy. "There is no jurisprudence in this regard, but I think there will be," says José Domingo Monforte, a lawyer specializing in Sports Law.

"The right to honor, privacy and image has constitutional rank, is personal, individual and incontrovertible. For someone to violate it, there must be express consent and the scope of that consent has never been assessed. Contracts for the assignment of rights are usually general. One thing is that I allow myself to be recorded playing and another, naked in the locker room. When an athlete understands that his honor has been compromised, there will be a legal conflict, "concludes the lawyer about the open debate. Entertainment versus privacy. Where is the limit?

  • Real Madrid
  • Articles Javier Sánchez