OPINION | Has Kylian Mbappé tarnished his reputation?

Kylian Mbappé is set to attend a bullfight later today at Madrid’s famed Las Ventas arena. The Frenchman has been known for his ability to navigate the media landscape shrewdly and avoid any controversies that could stain his reputation. However, has the decision to attend a bullfighting event been a step in the wrong direction?

As of yet, Mbappé has been very astute with his career progression, both as a professional footballer and as a celebrity in the public eye. From his proximity to French president Emmanuel Macron to his concern about his image rights and being linked with fast food advertising at the French national team, the 23-year-old has been committed to trying to create a portrayal of himself in the media that could help push his career forward – whether that would be in football or off the pitch elsewhere.

Kylian Mbappé and Madrid

Mbappé has set his primary professional footballing career goal the idea of playing for Real Madrid and yesterday it was communicated that he is keen to leave PSG. Throughout this past summer transfer window he was linked with a move to Los Blancos. By entering talks with Real Madrid, he was able to force PSG’s hand to offer him a deal that would make him the highest paid footballer in the world according to Forbes, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. His ability to create a marketable image of himself has also enabled him to become the best-paid player off the pitch as well.

Nonetheless, it appears as though his goal to develop his professional career as a footballer and become the face of football as a brand has hit a brickwall following the news that he is set to attend a bullfight in Madrid.

Bullfighting, or the corrida in Castilian, has divided Spanish society for generations and it has been banned in certain cities and regions, including Catalonia.

However it still takes place in most parts of the country during the summer months and on special occasions, including the 12th of October, which is the National Day of Spain. The biggest event is held at Las Ventas, the 24,000-seater bullfighting arena located in Madrid’s affluent Salamanca district.

In addition to Alejandro Talavante and Francisco de Manuel, spectators will have the opportunity to witness the performance of Andrés Roca Rey this afternoon, who is considered by many the best bullfighter of his generation.

While the corrida will no doubt generate excitement amongst those interested, Mbappé’s attendance alongside PSG teammates Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Keylor Navas will no doubt draw criticism from supporters, especially when considering that politicians in his native France are considering banning the sport altogether.

Mbappé has been dropping hints over the past year that he wants to join Real Madrid, including with visits to the Spanish capital on numerous occasions, but his decision to go to Las Ventas may backfire on his career.

Corridas are becoming less and less popular with Spain’s younger generation, which is Mbappé’s main market for his revenue from advertising. Additionally, his decision to snub Real Madrid and accept PSG’s hefty contract offer has not gone down well with Los Blancos’ faithful, with fans chanting derogatory expressions aimed at the Frenchman during Real Madrid’s gathering at Cibeles after their Champions League win at the end of last season. On the other hand, Karim Benzema, who is France’s primary centre-forward in the national team, is revered by Madridistas in Spain and around the world for his contributions to the club’s success over the past decade.

Whatever happens regarding his future, Mbappé may have to face the reality that he may not necessarily be welcomed with open arms at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu if he ends up joining Real Madrid.



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