Rafael Nadal has responded sharply to criticism of his plans for his Mallorca academy and his relationship with his hometown of Manacor.
The 33-year-old wrote a letter to local newspaper Manacor Noticias in Spanish and spoke of his "pain and disappointment" at the "unjustified and defamatory'' allegations.
The mayor of Manacor, along with local conservation groups and some tourism businesses, have objected to the recently approved expansion of the Rafa Nadal Academy. The expansion will bring its facilities to more than 40 courts, squash courts, two swimming pools, soccer-style playing field, fitness center and a hotel containing more than 200 rooms.
"I can assure you that this academy project could have been located in several placed in the world where we were offered important benefits and a lot of facilities," Nadal said. "But though it was a higher economic cost, I wanted to do it in my home, in Manacor, where this project could be positive for my region and the Balearic Islands."
He explained why he wanted to address the issues. "I don't like to enter into these types of controversies," said Nadal. "I just wanted to express my feelings of pain and disappointment [and] I think you should, also, have my point of view about things that people are saying."
According to El Confidencial, the mayor of the municipality has complained about a lack of discussion of the recent expansion of the academy approved by the regional government. The approval allowed the use of 26 square meters of undeveloped land and a total expansion of the facility to more than 73 square meters, with no application for a change in land use or environmental impact assessment.
The academy has also been viewed as now competing with the area's resorts and tourism sector while avoiding their regulations.
"There is no relationship between the Nadals and the city council of Manacor," the mayor, Miquel Oliver, was quoted as saying. "They are on the sidelines of the municipality, and not interested in the effect of their business on their neighbors.
"The Rafa Nadal Academy fills its mouth with Manacor-ness, declares it is good for Manacor, the amount Rafa does for Manacor, but Manacor-ness is not spoken, it is practiced."
Oliver, according to a radio station, has denied part of these comments since the publication of Nadal's letter. (https://twitter.com/partidazocope/status/1202726258112638976)
????️???? @miquel_oliver, alcalde de Manacor, en @partidazocope— El Partidazo de COPE (@partidazocope) December 5, 2019
➡️ "La Rafa Nadal Academy pagó el IBI una vez que se le reclamó"
➡️ "Siento admiración por Rafa, como persona y como deportista. En ningún momento dije que Rafa vivía al margen del municipio"#PartidazoCOPE pic.twitter.com/2fsUi8wwXO
Nadal had hit back, saying, "Having to listen to this is offensive and painful. There may be people who do not like the way I have carried the name of Manacor across the world, but I think there is no doubt I have tried to do it in the best possible way."
The Spaniard said that the academy had paid 735,000 Euros to the municipality relating to the development, created more than 3 square km of green land and planned 2.6 square km more, and would share the cost of roadworks with the council. He added that the academy employs more than 300 people, uses local construction companies, and sources locally "wherever possible."
Oliver had also been quoted charging that the academy had not paid local fees, but Nadal gave specific figures of more than 216,000 Euros paid in 2017 and 2018. These payments have been confirmed by Oliver, according the radio station.
Nadal noted that he had personally given donations in 2012 for an auditorium on the island, and helped with storm relief efforts in 2018. He also said his foundation for under-privileged children started with a first location in Mallorca.
In addition, the No. 1 called other suggestions that the local Porto Cristo required adjustments to dock his yacht "absolutely false" and that he had "complied with all the usual processes."
The Rafael Nadal Academy also has locations in Mexico and Greece, and another which just opened in Kuwait.