Kyiv 2017

Salvador Sobral: “The EBU repeatedly threatened to disqualify me…but now the UN want me as an ambassador!”

Almost two weeks ago, Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 for Portugal with his song, ‘Amar Pelos Dois’, which his sister, Luísa, wrote for him. On Portuguese TV, they have taken part in a special programme giving more details about their experience.
The programme, ‘Luísa e Salvador: A Entervista’  (Luísa and Salvador: The Interview), aired on RTP just a few days ago. If you can understand Portuguese, you can see the full programme for yourself here, otherwise, read our summary of what they say below!

Previous Experiences

Salvador and Luísa have both had negative experiences with television in the past, but were so grateful towards RTP for allowing them to do whatever they like. RTP never pushed them to change the entry to make it more “marketable” in their eyes.

Winning Festival de Canção and Eurovision

Luísa didn’t think that they would win Festival de Canção, so when they did, she cried a lot, but not out of joy. She felt that she had deceived the Portuguese public, since she thought that Salvador wouldn’t be able to leave the country due to his health issues.
They believe that they won because they didn’t care about winning, they had no strategy to make sure they won. They believe that this authenticity resonated with people.

The Airport Reception

Salvador and Luísa were overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the reception at the airport when they returned home. However, when they got home, they saw on TV that there had been children there who had made drawings for Salvador, and an elderly disabled woman who had left home just to meet Salvador. The pair felt very bad when they saw this, as they had not been allowed to engage with the people in the crowd.

EBU’s Repeated Threats of Disqualification

We already knew that the EBU had told Salvador that he could not wear his “SOS Refugees” shirt for the flag ceremony. Salvador has now said that the EBU threatened to completely disqualify Portugal from the contest if Salvador continued to wear the shirt.
Furthermore, Salvador says that, for the final rehearsal, he had planned to sing Amar Pelos Dois in English. But, the EBU found out about this, and threatened again to disqualify him if he did this. Even Salvador himself seems uncertain as to why the EBU were so against him completing one rehearsal in English!

“The UN want me to be an ambassador”

The United Nations contacted Salvador after he made his statement about the refugees. They asked if he would like to become an ambassador for the cause. However, Salvador turned the offer down, as he thinks he doesn’t know enough about the politics behind the issue. He just wanted to give a humanitarian message as a normal citizen.
Salvador also turned down a proposal from a left-wing political group in Portugal. This offer came due to praise that he gave to the current leftist government in Portugal whilst in Kyiv.

Jimmy Fallon Requests An Interview

Salvador briefly mentions that Jimmy Fallon, American comedian and host of The Tonight Show, has contacted him for an interview. Unfortunately, it seems that Salvador is likely to refuse.
What do you think of all this? Were the EBU being unfair with their threats of disqualification? Would you have liked to see Salvador as a UN or political ambassador? Tell us in the comments below!

Luke Malam

I've watched Eurovision for as long as I can remember, but my interest really built in 2008, after I decided to watch the semifinals online, out of boredom, before the final...I was blown away by the quality of the show and have been hooked ever since! I'm a competitive trampolinist and I love baking. I've also just completed a master's degree in Research Methods in Psychology at University College London.

Comments on Salvador Sobral: “The EBU repeatedly threatened to disqualify me…but now the UN want me as an ambassador!”

  • Wouter

    Did he say what rehearsal he wanted to do in English? If it’s one of the evening ones it’s obvious why he can’t do that; it’s where the juries vote, and the recording that’s used as backup for the real show.
    Though even for the other ones, of course the rehearsals need to be as equal to the performance that matters as possible. Otherwise you might as well not rehearse. He would have been free to sing whatever he wants in whatever language anywhere else (euroclub, eurovillage, press conference).
    If he didn’t understand this, something must have gotten lost in communication.

  • John Egan

    Indeed, the rules require you to sing the song submitted to the Reference Group in mid-March. You can remix the backing track, but the lyrics cannot be changed without asking for an exception. Since the Sobrals aren’t festival fixtures this would have escaped them. RTP should have known better, however.

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