Revista Panenka, a Spanish magazine part of the Copa Collective, just turned six years old. Following their anniversary, we spoke to their editor-in-chief Carlos Martín Rio.
The economic recession hit strong in Spain.It certainly was not the most prolific environment to start new projects, but this did not stop a group of journalists from Barcelona from launching their dream football culture magazine. And so, in 2011, Revista Panenka was born“The economic crisis and the changes in the world of journalism with the appearance of digital media arose some challenges. Fortunately, we were successful in terms of obtaining advertising and subscribers and that is why, six years later we are still growing. But of course we, as everyone else, faced some of the difficulties of this market that is experiencing a transition.”Revista is the Spanish word for magazine and Panenka is the surname of Antonin, a Czech player who scored a revolutionary penalty in the Euro 1976 final that Czechoslovakia won against Germany. In his honour, Panenka adopted his name as well as the silhouette of his face and moustache as a logo.“The penalty that Antonin Panenka scored on that 20th of June of 1976 when Czechoslovakia won the Euro was special, different; it was an act of bravery. We felt that it represented us: we wanted to be something different and to leave a mark. Panenka was consulted and he said that he was more than happy to have a magazine named after him. And not only that; he was also available for an interview, which became the main feature of our first edition. From the very begging, he has been the ‘godfather’ of this project.”Digital platforms provide access to plenty of football articles from different media organisations but there is nothing like holding in your hands the physical copy of a great magazine, admiring the cover of that monthly wonder and turning the pages — which have a magical print paper smell — as you devour articles and interviews. The quality of their content and the fact that it is a print magazine makes Panenka a unique, must-buy publication for any Spanish-speaking football lover. But they do also have a dynamic website where they publish new articles and recover old ones that were once featured on previous numbers of the magazine.“Our first number was originally published on a digital format, but when we saw the warm welcome from the public we decided to publish in print. We want to have an attractive design and format. To publish in print has an added value; we believe that print still provides a unique experience to the reader compared to the other formats.”From news-related short stories to long-reads atemporal articles, going through in-depth interviews and more cultural pieces, Panenka’s contents join in harmony conforming their distinctive identity. Their numbers are usually constructed around one central main topic; some of their recent themes include the relationship between football and journalism (featuring an interview with Gerard Piqué), the 80s, and the life of footballers after retirement. They also do some issues focusing on one specific club, nation or football figure. Their full-time staff is not particularly large, but they have a wide network of contributors.“Every month we have to do a significant work in order to get a new edition of the magazine full of interesting articles that cover different points of view. We publish monographic numbers which mainly focus on a certain topic, so we need to find several ways of covering it. There are freelance journalists that usually approach us with good stories and we also have a fixed network of contributors from multiple locations that keeps growing every month. We always try to cover stories from the very places where they are happening.”And after all these years, what is the balance for Panenka?“A very positive balance. We have not stopped growing in these six years. It has been a moderated growth, but still a sustainable one. Now there are more people working full-time at Panenka, sales keep rising and we keep trying to be innovative and brave in a journalistic sense. We try to keep the same spirit that we had when we started because that is what has brought us to this point. These six years have been really good. Hopefully we can continue like this or, why not, get even better.”