Pippo Russo is a professor of Sociology at the University of Florence, where he teaches Sociology of Sports. In recent years, he has become one of the specialists on the shadow economy of world football. L’Orgia del Potere (A Orgia do Poder) is his second title and the one that has put Pippo Russo in the spotlight in Portugal, due to the attention given to Jorge Mendes
How does a sociologist become interested in journalism?
I was already a journalist before to finish my university formation as a sociologist, so when it happened it was natural mixing both profiles. And all my work is a result of this mix.
As a sociologist, what are your impressions on the influence of nowadays’ media in the public opinion?
Media have always had influence on public opinion. What changes is the communication environment where media acts. Now we have a more social communication, but that doesn’t mean we have more conscious and democratic communication. Manipulation risk is more and more present and the most worriyng thing is that there’s no awarness enough about it.
What is your opinion on FIFA’s “Marshall plan” to mitigate Covid-19’s football impacts?
I think Fifa has the duty to restore football. It has lot of money and has the duty to redistribute it to football that’s facing the most terrible crisis in its history.
Do you think that sports authorities will take the opportunity given by covid-19 to change their sports policies?
I hope this. But in my opinion it will be the change that will changes policies. I mean, the aftermarths will be so deep that sport policies and sport governance will not be the same because of external pressures and not because of choice.
How do you explain the importance of the media in all the events that lead to the Alcochete attack and later on to the impeachment of Bruno de Carvalho as President of Sporting?
Alcochete attack was a very serious matter in itself, not because of influence of media. It was unavidable that media coverage was dramatic, and the same was abroad and not only in Portugal.
Concerning Bruno de Carvalho, is a matter of fact that media was not by his side.
Two years ago Sporting had publicly declared itself against the influence of funds and agents in the world of football. Do you believe that Frederico Varandas, the current president of Sporting, has kept this position?
I never heard a word on this topic by Varandas. As if this problem doensn’t exist for him. And between all the embarassing things in Varandas presidency, that’s one of the most embarassing.
What is your opinion about football ‘leaks’ and ‘Rui Pinto’ and the importance of Rui Pinto for transparency in Portuguese sports?
For me Rui Pinto is a whistleblower, and as a whistleblower he should have been respected and treated as a source of justice information by portuguese authorities. But instead of this, we have Rui Pinto in jail.
This means only that portuguese authorities don’t want the truth to be known about football. For me, Rui Pinto is a political prisoner.
The Portuguese authorities are conducting an investigation called “Fora de Jogo”, regarding professional football transfers. One of the main suspects is Jorge Mendes. Do you believe that this operation will finally lead to Jorge Mendes being accountable for the irregular businesses he has been conducting for several years?
I hope this will happen. We must start from the principle that any person is innocent until proven guilty. But all this premised, I think nowadays Jorge Mendes is weaker in Portugal too, not only outside Portugal. Let’s wait and see.
Do you believe that Jorge Mendes is trying to use his influence in other sports?
He’s in business with tennis too, but is clear that football is his core business.
How would it be possible to wipe out any llegal activities, such as money laundering, in professional football?
Only one word: transparency. Who pays and who earns, how much money and where it goes, in which bank account of which country. All those data must to be public. Public control is the first obstacle against money laundering.
What made Jorge Mendes so influential and important in the professional football scene?
Jorge Mendes has been able to set up a network of relations both with football world and the finance world. And above all he’s a man with a maniacal attitude for propaganda.
I’ve not be able to understand why he so quickly have this take-off in a dimension of most powerful man in world football. Only him and an handful of other persons could explain it.
Do you reckon that Jorge Mendes benefits Luís Filipe Vieira, President of Benfica, through the payment of commisions?
Officially, is Benfica that pay commissions to Jorge Mendes. And we can only say what we officially know.
It came to us as a surprise the openness shown by Mr Pippo Russo to cooperate with such a recent project like “Espartano de Alvalade“. For this, we, team “Espartano“, would like to thank Mr Pippo Russo and wish him all the best. Thank you .