Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is suing News Group Newspapers over a story which appeared in the News of the World.
Benitez claims a story headed: ‘It’s your fault Benitez in new blast at owners’was defamatory, and is demanding unlimited damages of more than £300,000.
He claims the story, written by Rob Beasley, meant he blamed the club’s owners for ruining his team’s title hopes, and excused any responsibility for the team’s poor performance by cynically blaming the owners for destabilising the club.
The story also claimed he was disloyal, indifferent to the feelings of the club’s owners, and solely interested in having the perfect excuse to avoid responsibility for the team’s failure to win a title, he says.
Benitez says the story seriously injured his reputation, and caused him embarrassment and upset.
He is also seeking aggravated damages, saying Beasley did not write his story based on an interview with him, but instead based the story on an interview published in the Spanish El Mundo.
Part of an answer he gave was distorted and misrepresented, he says. Benitez claims that Beasley does not like his personal style of play, management, or personality, and says that the News of the World and Beasley knew that if they could ignite more tension between the club’s owners and him, it would cause him problems and could lead to his sacking.
Benitez says in his full interview in El Mundo, he was being uncritical; but he says that Beasley wrote a highly charged article claiming exclusivity, and he and the paper knew that if Benitez had been blaming and attacking the club’s owners, it could be problematical for him.
Despite this, they did not ask him to comment, according to a High Court writ. Benitez also says that the paper did not apologise or offer to make amends.
Now he is claiming damages, aggravated damages, and an injunction banning repetition of the allegations at the centre of his claim. Benitez is also suing Beasley himself over the story.