Heaven forbid that politics affect the Eurovision Song Contest. The annual event — a campy mix of national jingoism, regional favoritism and really bad songs — is swatting away the latest accusations of shady dealings, this time concerning allegations that one singer was quietly told to take a dive because her crisis-stricken country couldn’t afford the win.
Pastora Soler, Spain’s Eurovision entrant, is angrily denying reports, widely quoted in the European press, that said she was told not to win the contest. If she did, the story goes, “it will be impossible because of the costs” for her cash-strapped homeland — currently buckling under the ongoing Euro debt crisis — to host the next year’s competition, as decreed by Eurovision rules.
Accounts of what she said vary; some suggest that Spanish TV channel TVE told her they would find it “really difficult” to stage and broadcast the performance; others say representatives of the Spanish Government advised her to underperform.
Soler has insisted to the BBC that she was misquoted by a “very bad” journalist, towards whom she is presumably angrily gesturing in the above photograph. On Friday she held a press conference in Azerbaijan, where the competition is being hosted:
“Yesterday was a difficult day for me because I had an interview with a journalist that was trying to get words that I didn’t say. The public Spanish television is with me and is supportive of me, since the beginning of the day until now … It will be wonderful news for Spain and the people in Spain.”
Soler will be the 19th act to perform during tomorrow’s final, with a ballad called “Quedate Conmigo” (“Stay With Me”) that she will no doubt be addressing to Angela Merkel in a moving plea for Eurobonds.
Ireland, a country also in the economic doldrums, may have shared similar fears about hosting next year’s contest, but has prudently managed to dodge any chance of victory by entering the harrowing tweeny-twin pop outfit, Jedward.