The Age sports columnist Greg Baum has penned a piece slamming tennis superstar Rafael Nadal and his publicity team.
Baum revealed the masthead was offered an interview with the current world number one ahead of the Australian Open, but with “strings attached”.
As well as a 10-minute time limit and questions submitted in advance, the story was also required to carry a 50-word tagline noting Nadal’s involvement with a “travel insurance” company that is sponsoring the star.
“The story would have to include a high-res image from the insurance company’s campaign. That is, its ad, dressed up as editorial,” disclosed Baum.
“It would also have to include a picture of Nadal at a press conference taken against the backdrop of the company’s “branded media wall”.”
With the lengthy list of requirements, The Age declined the interview.
“Does Nadal know about these machinations in his name? He should. Ingenue that he sometimes seems, he’s too big a figure in tennis to represent himself as merely a pawn in a game,” Baum said.
“Does he care? He really should. The guy has earned around $170 million in his career, and you can quadruple that for endorsements, so this sort of chicanery only makes him look greedy.
“Does it matter? Yes, it does. It goes to the heart of editorial independence, and the way some think they can ride roughshod over it.”
Despite being exposed in The Age, it seems Nadal’s PR team had more luck securing an interview for Nadal on Sunrise earlier in the week.
The 15-minute interview can be found on the Facebook page of travel insurance company InsuranceandGo Australia, where Nadal is shot in front of the same ‘branded media wall’ referenced by The Age.
As alluded to by Baum, Nadal is quizzed about the importance of travel insurance by the interviewer as the story comes to a close.
“You feel more safe, that’s the main thing when you travel. Anything can happen and you need to be safe,” the Spanish tennis player says.
You can find the full interview below.
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