Manolo Lama (Madrid, January 3rd 1962) is a famous Spanish sports journalist. He has been on the business for more than forty years both as a commentator and presenter for sports programes on the radio and TV. He currently broadcasts Real Madrid and Spanish National team games at the “Tiempo de Juego” in the COPE channel, he is part of the tertullians at the “El Partidazo” of that same channel; on TV, he directs and presents “El Golazo” at the Gol channel, and last but not least, he narrates games on the EA Sports video game FIFA.
Guillermo Bermejo, our director, receives him on an exclusive interview to this website. How is it going, Manolo?
Manolo Lama: Very well, I am glad to be here with you.
QUESTION: Let´s start from the beginning. Did you always know that you wanted to work as a sports journalist?
Manolo Lama: Well, just as ny other teenager, I aso had doubts on what to study. I knew that I liked the journalism field, but I was not sure if that was for me. I actually thought about a history or an art degree, but I ended up signing up at the Media one in Madrid, and luckily for me I could combine my two passions, journalism and sports.
“I was lucky enough to combine my two passions: journalism and sports”
Manolo Lama, along with Paco González and Pepe Domingo Castaño when they started to perform in the business. Twitter/@lamacope.
QUESTION: You have always said that the Olympics are your favorite event to broadcast. Which one brings you the best memories?
Manolo Lama: Barcelona 92 were the prettiest ones because it was the first time that they were held in Spain. Our country proved that we had the facilities and the capacity to organice such an event like the Olympics, and most of all, it was the boom for the Spanish National team, as we conquered up to 23 medals, our best result.
“Barcelona 92 was the boom of the Spanish sport”
QUESTION: This year, we have lived an exceptional situation with the coronavirus pandemic, where sports have been cancelled for several months. How have you got through it, considering that you are used to be constantly traveling to stadiums, or making sports programes on radio and TV daily?
Manolo Lama: As for any other spaniard or any person in the world, it has been sad and I have been worried, so honestly, my job was the last thing I thought about. It was way more important to see all the bad news on our health than thinking about sports. The sun always comes back, and we had to be patience and listen to the medical staff indications to get over it. Personally I had never lived a situation like this one where the league gets suspended half way the season, and we did not even know if it would resume at some point, but we have finally progressed little by little. Now I am not sure if LaLiga will be able to return in September as it is planned, but we have to get used to this new reality.
“My job was honestly the last thing I thought about”
QUESTION: Recently you said on “La Contraportada de El Partidazo” radio show that on the Olympics your crew has to make daily programs up to 14 hours a day, and you guys do not even have a script to follow because you do not know what is going to happen on that specific day. How do you manage to distribute all your guys so you do not miss out on anything important?
Manolo Lama: Well, it is my job, and you end up getting used to it after many years of practice. I have to think of an effective strategy to cover everything and take the most out of my partners. You really have to guess where the news can arise and move your guys fast, so we always study the map of the city before getting there in order to send each one of them strategically. That is how we make the magic happen later on live.
“You really have to guess where the news can arise”
QUESTION: When I told my partners, Manuel Aguayo and José Manuel Calviño, the other day that you were going to be with us, they asked me to talk to you about the beneficent FIFA tournament that took place during the lockdown and faced off several LaLiga players. You were one of the commentators along with Ibai Llanos, or as you would call him, Unai Ondulado. How was it for you to participate on this initiative?
ANSWER: I really wanted to cooperate on this, as it was the first week of the lockdown and we were losing a lot of people during the coronavirus. I do not have any idea about the internet or computers, so a partner from the radio came to my home to set it all up, and I just took care of the commentating part in order to make people feel better. That was my only goal, to try to make people to forget what we were going through at least for an hour so they could have fun. And people loved it, so I am glad they enjoyed.
QUESTION: How do you value the return of LaLiga? We have seen that the first division was able to finish, but the second one still has the Deportivo-Fuenlabrada game left because of multiple positive cases at Fuenlabrada squad. What do you think of the decision taken by LaLiga, the Spanish Federation, and the Sports Council about playing the rest of the games but that one on the last weekend of the competition?
ANSWER: Generally speaking, I think that LaLiga return has been a success, as more than 99% of the games could be played. Unfortunately we have one that could not take place, but that was a very tough decision to make. You have to think that if they had decided to suspend the rest of the games, you would not know if in two weeks Fuenlabrada players would be recovered, or even more, if more positive cases would appear on other teams, as it is happening right now. What I have clear is that they should look for a fair solution, because Deportivo have been the most harmed team by far.
“Overall, I think that LaLiga return has been a success”
“Deportivo de la Coruña have been the most harmed team by far”
Question: What do you thin it has been the key for Real Madrid to win this league? And what have Barça missed on?
ANSWER: Multiple aspects: 1. Barça is a disaster defensively. 2. Barça are an old team. 3. Madrid returned very strong physically. 4. Madrid bet on defending and not giving away anything, and as they have some of the best players forward, they managed to win almost all of their games, and just as Barça drop their first two points and lost the first spot, they knew they would not catch Real. 5. Zidane just did his job, focused on making a strong team, and let his best players forward decide the games.
“Barça are an old team”
QUESTION: Velasco Carballo, President of the Referees Council, said a few days ago that “in 2020 there have never been less mistakes in the history of the Spanish football”. What is your opinion on the referees´ performance this season?
ANSWER: As any other regular citizen, I believe that the VAR is a joke. I was against the VAR since the beginning and just a few supported me and most people thought that I was crazy, but now our ship seems to be overbooked. I think that the VAR is a great instrument, the main issue is that we never know when the referees are going to use it. Some penalties are ridiculous and they make the call even after looking it on the screen; others are very clear and they do not call it. This way, the VAR has reached unbelievable extremes, and it has turned into the point that if the referee on the room wants to control the game, he can do so. Except for Mateu (Lahoz) the rest of the referees have become into servants to the guy on the room.
“Except for Mateu (Lahoz), the rest of the referees have become into servants to the guy on the VAR room”
QUESTION: The champions League is right around the corner with a new format due to the pandemic. What team do you think benefits the most this new Final 8 edition?
ANSWER: It will benefit the most to the one who wins. I certainly believe that physical teams such as Atlético, Bayern or Madrid will have more advantages than those technical, but you never know in football. This is going to be like a World Cup, each team is going to play three games in seven days and they have to give their best, but it can always happen that a player suddenly shines and makes three outstanding performances, and they win the trophy before you even notice.
QUESTION: Last one, what are your expectations for the next season? Do you think that LaLiga will be able to return in September? And what about the fans, when do you predict that they will enter to the stadiums again?
ANSWER: Right now I seriously doubt that LaLiga will return in September as it is planned. It is a very uncertainty time, because we were told that the heat of the summer was going to stop the virus, and, however, positives are increasing every day, so I can´t even imagine what could happen in October or November when the flu comes. I want to think that football could still take place under very strict protocols, but fans will not be back to the stadiums in the next months. I believe that we will not have the football we used to know until 2021.
“I believe that we will not have the football we used to know until 2021”
Guillermo: Thanks for being with us today Manolo, it has been an absolute pleasure. The entire team of ELXIIDEAL wants to give you our official T-Shirt.
Manolo: Thank you Guille, it has been my pleasure, until next time.