“If I don’t sign Figo, I will pay a year’s membership fee of all Real Madrid socios”. That’s how Florentino Perez managed to become Real Madrid’s President, even though his adversary had just won his second UCL trophy. But Florentino had help to fulfil his promise: from Sandro Rosell.
Rosell was working at Nike at the time, and was responsible for making it easy for Figo to leave Nike, who then owned his image rights. Real Madrid wanted to profit from their new player, and Rosell made sure to calm Florentino down: “To us, the most important thing is the player, and if he wants to play at Madrid, we won’t be an obstacle, even if it means we have to renounce of his image rights”.
Sandro Rosell, who had attended matches on the Camp Nou with his father when a child, was key in making it possible for Figo to become the most hated player for any culer. Rosell sees football as a business, and nothing more.
3 years after that, he was now the Sporting Vice-President under Laporta’s rule. But their good relationship would only last a few months. Curiously, it all began to fall apart after a match against Real Madrid. Sandro wanted power, but he wasn’t the President. So he left the board in 2005.
From 2008 until 2010, he became a strong voice in the opposition, and tried to hit Laporta’s image in any way he could. He had the help from his friends at Group Godó, who happens to own Mundo Deportivo, La Vanguardia and RAC1 Radio, so he had a powerful media group by his side. He decided to run for President in 2010, and make the following promises:
We want to change the statutes so the socis have a better voice.
We helped create the current sporting system, so there’s no sense in changing it.
In 5 years, I imagine an imponent Barça.
We will recover the women’s basketball team.
It’s possible to have a Grada Jove without any kind of violence.
“I hold Cruijff in a very high steem”.
We want to keep the sporting excellence we see nowadays.
“I don’t want to stop new socis from signing, but I want to regulate it”.
3 words to describe my will to become President: Feeling, passion and sport.
The only different thing we want at the sporting sections is that in the short term we have most players coming from La Masia.
The 3 axis of the economic program: Transparency, austerity and growth.
The Barça Model will have key elements in the formation of people, the transfer of values and Fair Play. To start our sporting model, we’ll finish the new La Masia building so we can move immediately, and will build a new one for the other sporting sections.
We will manage the signings accordingly, and we’ll sell players by planning it beforehand and in a planned manner.
When it comes to signings, the priority will always be the squad, and we’ll inform the socis in a detailed manner.
We’ll improve the medical facilities and will build a new High Performance Space, modern and comfortable.
We wont intervene in the technical staff. The sporting model works. We won’t intervene either on football on any other section.
We’ll keep UNICEF on the shirt.
I want to unite the club, not divide it.
The Project Foster (250mi euros) is too expensive.
We want to change the timeslot so the small children can attend matches.
Espai Barça is gonna cost 150mi euros, and will happen in 6-8 years.
Rosell won. 35.021 votes. The most voted President in FC Barcelona’s history. He took over for the 10-11 season.
Then, we had recently won the Triplete (2009), then the Sextete, had the best coach in the world (Pep), the best player in the world (Messi), and 2 straight Liga titles, plus one UCL, when Rosell and his board took over.
During his campaign, he attacked Laporta viciously, inventing lies and using his connection to the media to discredit him, but pointed out 3 positives from Laporta’s Presidency: Pep Guardiola, the removal of the Ultras from the Camp Nou, and UNICEF.
Let’s now see how they proceed to destroy all of that in less than 5 years:
June 13th, 2010: The Beginning of the End
The day Rosell and his board were elected. 35.021 votes. The most votes a FCB President has ever received, 61,35%. After years of bombarding Laporta, and after facing weak opponents, Rosell was now the President.
July 6th, 2010: Cruijff Leaves the Club
After starting to say Cruijff’s position as President of Honor should be questioned, treating with hostility, and since 2008 making it clear they would want him away from the club, Johan rebels and just gives the insignia to the secretary on the club’s offices.
The biggest legend our club has ever had, who caused a revolution in 1973 and gave us our first Liga in 14 years, and gave the Catalans a much missed self steem, self worth after decades under Franco, who was about to die. Then returned in 1988, and coached the Dream Team, who played superbly well, won 4 Ligas and our first ever UCL, and laid the foundations to the model La Masia would start using: possession, triangulations, midfielders running the show, wingers, attractive football, no victims of Madrid, who lost 5-0 to Cruijff both as player and coach.
Then returned in 2003 with Guardiola and chose Rijkaard, a man who had relegated Rotterdam on Eredivise, but was given trust. 2 Ligas and our first UCL title in 14 years, also playing an attractive style.
Also said we should sign Pep Guardiola as coach. The man who put us on the highest pedestal ever achieved in football, by developing the best team the world has ever seen, and winning 14 titles in 4 years as coach, surpassing his master, who had coached the club for double the time.
That’s who they had sent away from our club, the one person who knew more about football than all of Rosell’s board put together.
October 10th, 2010: The First of Many Lies
Txigrinski had been signed by the previous board for 25mi euros, and the new board had announced they need to sell him “urgently”, because the club simply had no money after the “mismanagement of the previous board” to pay the players’ wages. They ended up selling him back to his former club for 15mi euros in July, losing 10mi in a few months.
And they lied.
Toni Freixa, on a radio interview on October, confessed they didn’t need to sell to player to pay the rest of the squad’s wages, as they have said then.
What Rosell did here was to show his claws to Guardiola, who wanted to keep the player.
Rosell lied about finances to get rid of a player he didn’t see good enough to remain at the club. A President, someone who should never make footballing decisions, making a maneuver to starve the coach who had won 2 Ligas and 1 UCL in 2 years, of a player he saw fit to keep.
More of that was gonna come.
October 14th, 2010: 250mi euros was too much for a new stadium
The Forster Project, would would renew the Camp Nou with a cost of 250mi euros. A “Pharaonic project”, according to Rosell.
To they had the urbanization plans be suspended by the Catalan Government. Just like that.
They decided it was too expensive, the club was “broke”, and we didn’t even need to renovate the Camp Nou.
As we are going to see, they had other plans…
October 16th, 2010: Their Revenge Began
Rosell, who had been attacking Laporta and his board for years, had hired an accounting company to check the club’s financial books from the Laporta era. And had them cooked, to make it seem like Laporta and his board had left the club in the red.
So they got the club’s Assembly to vote on the “most important decision in the social aspect in the club’s history”.
468 votes in favour, 439 against it and 113 who abstained (Rosell among them). 29 votes sealed the previous board’s fate. Too slim of a difference to be called “the most important decision”.
And the club lost the case. They had lied. Laporta and his board actually had left the club in a surplus: http://lucasammr.com/2014/10/28/revenge-is-a-dish-best-not-served/.
But for 4 long years Laporta and several of his board members suffered greatly. Were mistreated by the press, the fans (who started to call them liars at the Camp Nou, so several of them stopped attending our matches all together), and lived in anguish, cause they could each end up paying 3mi euros because of a crime THEY DID NOT COMMIT.
Laporta was considered by the fans as a thief. A bad President. Someone who had put the club in the spotlight, but also commited frauds, lied. Rosell even had the press post some of his spenditures: restaurants, chicken, etc. A despicable destruction of his image.
Rosell and his board lost, but appealed. These families continue to suffer (one of them while even battling cancer). But they will win. Justice will finally come to these people, these good people who had managed our club well enough to get us 4 Ligas and 2 UCL on 7 years.
December 10th, 2010: The Day they Tarnished Our Chests
5 months. All it took Rosell to do something that had never been done in our 111 years of history. 5 months was all it took Rosell to sell the sanctity of our shirt, who had never needed sponsors before, and was then paying 5mi euros/year to UNICEF to have the values it represents, to help UNICEF with their superb work.
Rosell made sure to say Qatar Foundation also were a philanthropy institution, who were responsible for helping thousands of people around the world. Basically: It’s just like UNICEF, only now we get paid for it!
As you could see with the Txigrinski case, and their lies about Laporta leaving the club broke (which he certainly did not), they now had the excuse to sell our shirt “out of necessity”.
166 million euros in a 5-year contract. That’s how much they paid for our soul, our identity.
But it wasn’t only our shirt they bought. More was to come about this board and Qatar. Much, much more…
March 10th, 2011: Beach Soccer Club Barcelona (No, really).
“We are very interested in beach soccer, a young and growing sport”. No, you weren’t.
The board never wanted to add beach football. They wanted to please Ricardo Teixeira, Rosell’s old time friend (1- http://lucasammr.com/2013/08/15/more-evidences-of-sandro-rosells-crimes-in-brazil/, 2- http://lucasammr.com/2013/08/16/more-evidences-of-sandro-rosells-crimes-in-brazil-part-2/, 3- http://lucasammr.com/2013/08/20/more-evidences-of-sandro-rosells-crimes-in-brazil-part-3/, 4- http://lucasammr.com/2013/08/23/even-more-evidences-of-sandro-rosells-crimes-in-brazil-part-4/, 5- http://lucasammr.com/2013/10/15/scandal-that-took-down-havelange-and-teixeira-had-rosells-networks/.)
Our Beach Football team only existed for one competition, and hasnt appeared since. A competition organized in Brazil, that filled Rosell’s and Texeira’s pockets with money.
We don’t know how much this stunt cost the club. But “We are broke”, remember?
March 15th, 2011: 200.000 euros for the doping allegations are enough
On March 13th, Cadena COPE’s Partido de La 12, “informed” citing Real Madrid sources, that Los Blancos “found it odd that FCB was working with doctors with a “doubtful reputation”, and were willing to ask the Spanish FA to start making “serious” anti-doping controls on the Spanish League”.
Real Madrid sources. Which means: Florentino had one of his several minions on the press imply that Barcelona was only winning everything and beating Real Madrid constantly because our players were using forbidden substances. Simple as that.
And the club reacted, of course. How could they not?! So we sued COPE for 6mi euros for their lies.
COPE soon conceded. 2 days after, actually. And we let it slide for 200.000 euros.
Any decent board would have kept pushing on and taken every single penny from this disgusting news source. But Florentino called his friend Sandrito, and, well…
June 8th, 2011: Our Baseball Team is no more
Rosell decided to close baseball team, who had existed for 80 years, because it cost the club 300.000 euros/years. All the non-professional sporting sections we had then, cost 0,46% of our revenues.
These people only thing about money, about removing everything that couldn’t generate us revenues.
Keeping something that had existed for 80 years and was actually part of our “Mes que un club” logo, and whatever Qatar had brought us. They also eliminated 12 other sports, who had dozens of kids playing under our colours.
Losing our identity month after month under these people…
September 5th, 2011: Cruijff warns us about Qatar and Rosell
El Periodico interviewed Cruijff in 2011 (you can read it in full here: http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/deportes/johan-cruyff-veo-cosas-raras-rosell-que-hacen-sospechar-que-club-quiere-1140458), and the Flying Dutchman warned us about Rosell and Qatar:
“I see strange stuff. What am I talking about? The agreement with Qatar, for instance, when you know Rosell had or has relations, and businesses, and we are talking about a country that has so much money. Then you see they reduce the sporting sections because they do not matter, and says that the club has a lot of debt, and always going on about the economic situation… What do you want? Convert Barça someday in a S.A.? I don’t know. But where are we headed to? What kind of club does Rosell want? There are some things you can’t understand and that make you suspicious. If you want to sell a company, what do you do? You eliminate everything that does not interest the buyer. If the buyer is Qatar, for instance, the sections do not matter to them and the foundations from here also do not matter, because they have their own.
These aren’t pleasant thoughts and I’m not saying it’s true, but you see stuff that make you think there’s more stuff behind all that”.
Cruijff could already tell Guardiola and Rosell weren’t gonna work together for long:
“It’s scary to think what’s gonna happen when Pep leaves, because Rosell has been against people like Pep and Rijkaard. His philosophy is the brazilian and Portuguese one. Everything started with Rijkaard, with his behavior. He was a gentleman. If it had been up to Rosell, he would have fired him after six months, and it’s very likely nothing we achieved since then would have happened”.
November 6th, 2011: 10mi euros for Neymar
On the 2012 Assembly, it was revealed the club had paid a mysterious 10mi euros to a “sportive intangible”. It was rumored that it was to bring Neymar.
Then, in 2014, when there was already a fiscal case regarding Neymar’s signing, his father revealed that the club had actually paid a 10mi advance for the player.
In 2011, literally 6 months after Messi had scored on Wembley to give us our 4th UCL title, Rosell paid to bring the player he saw as Messi’s substitute. He didn’t know it then, but this operation would be Rosell’s undoing.
March 1st, 2012: L’Espai Barça is now needed. And for the 150mi euros!
Jordi Moix presented some of the plans for Espai Barça, saying the club would spend around 100-150mi in renovating the Camp Nou and the areas around it.
Curious, considering they had shelved Laporta’s Forster Project, who would’ve costed 100mi euros less.
And even more curious, as were are gonna see later on. 150 became 600.
April 27th, 2012: Our best ever manager leaves the club
“I want the fans to know we offered Pep a blank check to renew, to remain at the club. We did all in our power to keep him”.
No, Sandro, you did not.
You started off by forcing Cruijff, Guardiola’s close friend and mentor out of the club. Then you lied to sell Txigrinski, a player Pep had given his word he would have another season to prove himself, after a bad first season in Spanish football. Then you went lied before the Assembly about Laporta’s books and decided to sue him and the whole of his board, even though Guardiola pleaded before you and in a press conference not do it. You left Pep all alone on his battle against Mourinho and Madrid’s press, when you could have helped him defend the club from all the lies they invented about our club, the club you were supposed to lead.
You never respected Guardiola’s choice on renewing year by year and tried to force a 6-year contract down his throat. You kept attacking Pep for Ibrahimovic’s signing before the socis, “the worst in the history of the club”, even though Pep wasn’t the only one responsible for it. You said we were gonna beat Real Madrid 5-0 on the 2011 Copa del Rey final one day before the match, which caused a commotion on the press (and we ended up losing our chance of a Triplete right there). You said we had beaten Madrid on the Spanish Supercup in 2011 “even though the players had just arrived from the beach”, which you knew would piss off Pep and the players.
So, no, Sandro. You didn’t do “everything in your power” to keep Guardiola happy, to keep him as our coach. Your were at fault for his departure.
May 22nd, 2012: Oscar Garcia also leaves the club
People who had come to the club under Laporta, and especially those who were close to Cruijff were never seen with good eyes by Rosell and his board.
So they lied to Oscar Garcia about promoting him to the B team, renewed with Eusebio and he left club, as told here: http://lucasammr.com/2015/01/09/oscar-garcia-junyent/.
Our most promising coach was leaving us due to lies and lack of vision from the board.
December 20th, 2012: Abidal’s renewal was ready to be signed
Bartomeu, then the Sporting Vice-President assured the fans: “Abidal’s contract is ready, and when he plays his first match, we’ll sign it”.
The most human example we had, the man who had beaten cancer to lift our 4th UCL title, was gonna stay with us.
Or so we thought…
March 1st, 2013: The Ultras were back
Laporta was the first President on Spanish football’s history to fight the ultras. He was attacked, threatened, but managed to keep these animals away from the Camp Nou.
Rosell and his board, though, had other plans.
They started selling tickets to these people with very low prices, and even gave them plane tickets to attend our away UCL matches. They would sell them those cheap tickets by batch and not even know who were the people who were getting these tickets.
After some fights in the area of the Camp Nou where these individuals “support” the team, and especially after a flare was thrown on the pitch in a match against Real Madrid, the Police investigated and opened a disciplinary action against the club, who had put them there.
Some of the members of such groups are literally inmates, who leave their prison cells after spending the week there, and get to go to the Camp Nou for the price of 10 euros, courtesy of Sandro Rosell.
These people still go to our matches, and confronted Messi’s brother and father after we lost La Liga to Atleti, and a few weeks stabbed two PSG fans on the outskirts of the Camp Nou…
On March 7th, 2013, Catalunya Radio got hold of the following document:
Rosell had signed, on May 16th, 2010, when he wasn’t even campaigning for the Presidency, with several ultras groups, promising them a “Grada de Animacio” inside the Camp Nou. When asked about the existence of this document, Rosell denied it.
The document has the signature of Jose Lluis Suderas, leader of the Boixos Nois for years, alongside Rosell’s. Sureda was part of far-right groups like Estat Catalá and was connected to several nazi groups. In total, there were signatures from 10 groups: Tóxicos, ICS, Taliban Barça, Grup Fidel, Nostra ensenya, Unibarçataris, Almogavers and Supporters Puyol.
The document leaves the door opened to more groups such as these, as well as “other socis to cheer in a model manner”.
There were only 11 copies of said document: one for Rosell and for each group’s leader. It contains 6 pages with the logo of Rosell’s campaign and with the conditions to form the future “Granda d’Animacio”. Most of the current board members were not aware of this document, which proves Rosell didn’t only lie to the socis, but also to his own board members. He knew he was doing something completely wrong.
But, he wanted all the votes he could get, so it didn’t matter if he got them from Nazis, or if he was allowing such people to return to our stadium, historically a place where families go together to attend the matches…
June 1st, 2013: Abidal, our soul, had being lied to and left the club
On December 20th, we were all happy a player like Abidal, who was superb as a left back and a left center back, was gonna help us for one more season.
But Bartomeu had lied. Abidal did play his first match (on April 6th), but wasn’t renewed automatically. They never renewed him.
The excuses was “the medical department does not think he will be able to continue as player”. Another lie.
After leaving in tears, Abidal went to Monaco and played over 30 matches. Also went the French NT and had good performances.
They fired Abidal because of the one thing they care: money.
Having someone with Abidal’s spirit, someone who made a miraculous recovery to help us win our 4th UCL titles, mattered little.
Getting rid of his high wages, in the other hand, was important. After all, Neymar was landing soon…
June 3rd, 2013: Neymar (and friends) land in Barcelona
Before I start: when people write against Neymar’s signing, it has nothing to do with Neymar himself. It’s about the lies and crimes Rosell and his board committed to bring the player.
So, after paying 10mi euros for Neymar in 2011, FC Barcelona finally had Neymar.
Rosell finally had Nike’s star on his team. But he did that with a very special “financial engineering”:
The pre-contract signed in 2011 (it’s forbidden to have actual, formal pre-contracts with players who still play for any other team in the world, according to FIFA’s regulation), made it clear that FC Barcelona was paying 10mi euros to N & N, Neymar’s company, who was run by his father.
And it was clear: FCB was paying these 10mi euros to have preference in signing Neymar after the 2014 World Cup. So far so good, right? We pay 10mi euros to get biggest young star in the world 3 years in advance. Sounds good!
Not so much.
The pre-contract also had a clause stating that, if FCB didn’t sign Neymar in 2014, of if Neymar went to another club, the offending part would have to pay the other 40mi euros.
But here’s the first catch: we ended up paying these 40mi euros to Neymar’s company.
It didn’t matter that we had indeed signed him. We were only gonna be free of this 40mi clause if he had come ONLY after the 2014 World Cup.
So we paid 17mi euros to Santos (a steal), and 40mi euros to Neymar’s company.
But that was only the beginning, as we’re gonna see ahead…
July 8th, 2013: We gifted Atleti Spain’s All Time Topscorer
Villa suffered a very serious injury during the Club World Cup in 2011, and lost most of the 11-12 season, and never really made a difference for us on 12-13, being far from the player he was in 10-11.
But the club did receive a 15mi euros offer from Arsenal for him, on January 2013. Which we declined.
Then ended up gifting him to Atleti for 2mi euros, and the club let us know via their usual media friends that, had Villa not left, we would have had to pay him 13mi euros for the 13-14 season, something we don’t know if it’s true or not.
So we were given the gift to have preference on the signing of Saul and Manquillo. Then never heard about them ever again.
And Villa ended up winning La Liga with Atleti, at the Camp Nou, while we counted the money we “saved”….
July 14th, 2013: We needed to pay for Neymar, so we sold Thiago Alcantara
Yes. You read that right.
Thiago Alcantara was pushed out of the club for the lowest price we could contractually sell him, so the money would go towards Neymar’s signing.
To some, this has always been a theory, but I’ve been told that by a journalist I trust dearly. So, there you have it.
Thiago Alcantara was no traitor. It wasn’t a coincidence he didn’t play the minimum amount of matches that season, the amount that would keep his buyout clause at 90mi euros, and not 18mi.
And he wasn’t sold for 25mi euros, as FC Barcelona reported.
It was 20mi, plus 1mi due to that friendly we played to Bayern. The other 4mi were counted as the salary Thiago was waving to sign with Bayern.
So, our most promising midfielder from La Masia was sold so there was money to be used elsewhere.
Again, the priority was money.
Sporting planning, preparing to a future without Xavi/Iniesta and respecting La Masia players were never this board’s concern.
August 28th, 2013: Qatar Foundation becomes Qatar Airways
Remember December 2010, when Rosell signed with Qatar Foundation and told us that was out of necessity, and that they were a respectable philanthropy institution?
Well, we didn’t sign a contract with Qatar Foundation alone.
Rosell signed one with Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), where it was clear FC Barcelona was the one who would approve a possible change of sponsorship brand in case QSI asked for it. And, funny enough, they did.
And we accepted it.
From that moment on, the Camp Nou was full of Qatar Airways ads, even on the seats, and the players were even filming ads. But were we gonna get more money, now that they were using our historic stadium and our world class players to promote the brand?
Of course not.
The same 33mi euros/year were being paid. The fact of the matter is: we do not know how many more hidden clauses there are in FCB’s contract with QSI. And, if Cruijff’s suspicions in 2011 happen to be right…
October 2nd, 2013: MCM sues FC Barcelona for 100mi euros
The company MCM was hired to place a second skin with LEDs around the new La Masia, and they could use such LEDs to exploit the building commercially, placing ads there.
It was originally signed by Laporta, but Rosell and his board made a new one, signed it, but never complied with it.
On MCM’s lawsuit for the breach of contract, it’s clear the contract was drawn up and signed by Sandro Rosell himself, a new contract, with new clauses that substitute and cancel the previous one signed by Laporta.
Rosell also allowed that the control over the management of the promising business of exploring La Masia’s walls goes to MCM, as long as the profits be split 50-50.
It’s also interesting to notice that MCM is a small company that is willing to put millions of euros to go forth with this lawsuit, when they know the size FCB and how much money the club can spend with lawyers. They are confident they will, in the worst of cases, reach an agreement. But they ask for 100mi euros in reparations for what they have lost for the breach of contract.
It’s baffling to know that the club denies to allow MCM to start exploring the La Masia building, when they know they are entitled to 50% of a business that is gonna generate millions of euros to the club.
It gets even worse when there’s little to no press coverage regarding this matter. Only Mundo Deportivo, who came out with more lies, saying the contract was signed by Laporta, when it was redrawn and signed by Rosell himself. Meanwhile, no big law firms in Barcelona are defending the club in such perilous law suit.
The board has so far only set apart 1mi euros to deal with this lawsuit, which is something odd when MCM is asking for 100mi. The club, given the seriousness of the case, where either an agreement is reached (which would cost a lot), or we lose the case (which would cost us a huge amount of money).
On April 9th, 2015, the Judge will decide. We’ll be watching.
October 15th, 2013: A generation of culers who won’t go to the Camp Nou
Since 1957, when the Camp Nou was built, socis could attend matches with their children. Back then, it was a long wooden bench, painted in green, so logically there weren’t seats, just numbers painted on the wood. So, the socis would only get a little closer to each other so they could enjoy their teams with their families. Later on, when the seats were put in place and the wooden benches were long gone, it still worked. If no other socis were near you, you could place your kid next to you, and watch the match. And if there weren’t any free seats, you could put your kid on your lap and enjoy the match. That has never been a problem.
And that worked, without incidents, for decades.
When Rosell took power in 2010, one of his campaigning promises was to fight for earlier matches, so more kids could attend, since Rosell himself used to go to the Camp Nou with his father, and sit on his lap. But he never did that. In fact, he was gonna add insult to injury:
One week before a Clasico, and with no previous warning whatsoever, FC Barcelona was now barring soci kids under 8 years old to enter the Camp Nou without tickets, something that has been always been the case. Once again, Rosell and his board were thinking about money, instead of our club’s values and history. Sandro would go on to say: “I don’t want ever hear that Sandro Rosell was responsible for the death of a child”. Something that never happened before at the Camp Nou, but, hey: one week before El Clasico, it’s better to remove those pesky 10.000 kids that would attend, and make sure we sell every single ticket we can!
And about money: the kids that were attending the matches were all socis. Each of them had their own soci ID, and their parents paid for it. Why didn’t the board let the socis know this change was gonna be implemented beforehand, so the parents could decide if it was still worth it to keep paying for their children’s membership? Zero concern about the socis and their money, yet again.
A few days ago, now as a candidate, Bartomeu not only brought the kids back to the Camp Nou, but now every U-14 soci won’t need tickets to attend matches.
What about the security concerns?!
December 9th, 2013: The Neymar Case begins and Rosell flees
Remember the story I told about those 40mi euros we paid to Neymar’s company when we signed him? Well, other socis didn’t forget. So, after trying to have that information sent to him so he could see what the club had done when they signed Neymar and never getting it, Jordi Cases decided to sue the club for embezzlement and named Sandro Rosell as responsible. It was the beginning of the end.
On December 16th, the Judged forced the club to send over all contracts from the Neymar deal so they would decide to accept Cases’ lawsuit or not. The Spanish Fiscal Authorities were now all over this, and also asked for our financial statements from 2012 (the one with the 10mi to Neymar) and also 2013.
This is my favorite part: Rosell held a presser to on January 20th, 2014 and decided to “ask the Judge to summon him, so he could show how transparent he is, and that he accepts Case’s lawsuit, so he could explain everything without breaching the confidentiality clause on Neymar’s contracts”.
2 days later, he got his wishes. Audiencia Nacional accepted the lawsuit, with would mean also the fiscal authorities were gonna pursue this. And guess what happened?
One day later, on January 23rd, 2014, Sandro Rosell became the first runaway President in the history of FC Barcelona. ONE DAY after the lawsuit was gonna be pursued, Rosell was leaving the Presidency “due to attack made against me and my family”.
Apparently, someone fired a BB gun towards Rosell’s home. What a coincidence this attack happened during the 3 days between Rosell asking for the Judge to move forward with the lawsuit and the Judge actually doing it!
The man responsible for all we’ve read so far, was gone. Our next President was now Bartomeu, Sandro’s best friend, and the first President in FC Barcelona’s history that no one had voted for.
January 24th, 2014: Bartomeu confesses Neymar’s cost was 86,2mi euros
When Sandro Rosell was questioned about Neymar’s cost, he said, emphatically, it had been “57mi euros, period”. And when the socis, lead by Jordi Cases, asked to see the contracts, he said “there were confidentiality clauses that can’t be breached”.
Funny enough, one day after Rosell left, the new President had been given permission by Neymar’s father to breach said confidentiality clauses, and guess what? It wasn’t 57mi euros, period.
We had spent 86,2mi euros on Neymar, and that is not counting his wages for the next 5 years. Only the actual amount of money we spent to sign him.
And, as we are gonna see in the future, 86mi euros is not all we are gonna spend for Neymar.
February 20th, 2014: 115 years of History tarnished before the courts
For the first time in its 115 years of glorious history, FC Barcelona had been named as a suspect in a tax fraud case.
The Spanish fiscal authorities were looking into alleged financial crimes committed in 2011 (10mi euros) and 2013 (actual contract) arising from the contracts related to Neymar’s signing, the signing Rosell made by himself and had assured it had only cost 57mi euros and was so perfectly legal he asked the Judge to move forward with the lawsuit. And there we were.
The Prosecutor considered that our club had failed to pay over 9mi euros in tax by not declaring all the contracts involved in the transfer. “There is a whole series of contracts that show signs of simulation, as well as financial engineering operations”. It was reported that these contracts may involve an alleged fraud of a quantity “that far exceeds the 120.000-euro limit for tax evasion set in the penal code”. A quantity of unpaid tax in a year over that limit gives rise to CRIMINAL responsibilities. And that were Sandro Rosell’s signatures all over these contracts. But not only him.
7 out of the 10 contracts the prosecutor referred to were signed by the current President, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The prosecution believed that the part of the transfer fee not included in the tax settlement was 37.9mi euros (pretty close to those 40mi the 2011 contract had set as penalty, huh?), which suggested evasion of 9.1mi euros on the part of the club.
So, exactly 4 days later, on February 24th, 2014, our club paid the fiscal authorities 13,5 million euros for possible “interpretative divergences” about the fiscal law applicable. And Bartomeu made sure to state “the club acted with absolute correctness”, and that they “WOULD DO EVERYTHING THE EXACT SAME WAY AGAIN”.
Rosell was arrogant enough to dare the Judge to pursue the case against us. Then the judge complied, he resigned as President. Now his successor, after paying 13,5mi euros in taxes, was saying he would do it all again. The nerve on these people…
By February 2014, Neymar had cost the club 109mi euros. And there is more to come.
March 20th, 2014: They fire Daniel Canas for being against them on Twitter. No, really.
Let me tell you a story about how this board treats the FC Barcelona fans and socis who talk against them on twitter. Read carefully:
“March 20th was my first day as a FC Barcelona employee, as an Online Project Manager, in the Ticketing area. First day: I sign my contract, introductions, full of meetings and getting to know people and projects. Excited. Happy.
Second day: after a meeting and being asked to attend another one the next week and to have my medical exams, I receive a call from Human Resources. They have several pages printed with tweets from me being critical towards Rosell and the current board. Tweets from January and previous months.
Human Resources had sent an email introducing me to the whole club, but the company CM, hired to track social networks associated my named and started to search. This company sends the report to the club’s General Director and they decide to fire me for “not being approved on the trial period”. But that wasn’t all:
The letter was already typed. I was fired on my second day AFTER LEAVING A HOME AND A JOB IN MADRID.
The tweets had no social, economic, sporting or commercial objective. I’m not a threat, nor a spy or a “black hand”. I was only disagreeing and being in pain for a club that is a huge part in my life, including this experience that had been my biggest professional goal.
They fire a Computer Scientist with 15 years of experience in E-Commerce, which I suppose was why they hired me, and not for “communication” matters.
But I’m also a soci with a much lower number than many board members, years performing barcelonism in Madrid, years waiting to be a season ticket holder.
I have never been fired from any company, it had to be FCB the first one. Very painful. And expensive”.
Daniel is a great person and writer. You should follow him on twitter: @dcana.
I mean, if you aren’t afraid of becoming the subject of a report by the company the board hired to check on the people who are against them on social networks, of course…
April 3rd, 2014: After waiting for 13 months, FIFA decided to punish us
Another warning: The way I approach the FIFA case has nothing to do with my views on the laws regarding the signing of U-18 foreign players. Of course La Masia is the best youth academy on Earth and we don’t “traffic” kids, as some enlightened british twitter users like to remind me weekly. The law needs to be changed.
But the fact of the matter is: it remains the same, and we had 13 months to act after FIFA first warned us of the breach. And we did absolutely nothing.
We could have started fighting them, contested the law, formed a group with other European clubs to fight yet. But did nothing. This isn’t FIFA being authoritarian or “doing Florentino’s wishes”: it was our club and the people that run it being reckless and irresponsible. Yet again.
Sandro Rosell, then President, and Josep Maria Bartomeu, then Sporting Vice-President, were warned by FIFA that FC Barcelona were breaching laws regarding the signing of foreign U-18 players in January 2013. Rosell’s response was, and I quote: “Don’t worry about it, I’ll settle that by myself”.
So I guess he got over excited with the Neymar signing and all the “financial engineering” going on during 2013, and also sending Abidal away, selling Thiago for the money, putting Qatar Airways in our shirt, etc…. and forgot completely about FIFA and their warning.
No documents were sent, no contacts were made. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
So, in April 3rd, 2014, FIFA punished us. We were forbidden from signing any players on both the next summer and winter transfer windows. And he is what Bartomeu had to say about that: “There’s a Black Hand behind our current legal issues (Neymar and now FIFA, cause he surely didn’t even remember the MCM case). The club will act with all its strength to find and make public if there’s a person or people that want to damage the club”.
Well, lemme help you with that, Bartomeu: yourself and your runaway pal, Sandrito.
Not only did Bartomeu decide to use the “black hand/Madrid” excuse. He also tried to put the blame on FIFA and, on our next match, that happened on April 5th, there was a huge “La Masia is Untouchable” banner on the Camp Nou. A cheap propaganda from one of the culprits.
On April 23rd, FIFA suspended the transfer ban while it would consider the club’s appeal. We were then allowed to sign players on the summer window. And we, just in case, spent over 170mi euros. After all, the ban had only been suspended, not lifted.
And on August 20th, FIFA had decided on the appeal: it was upheld. From September 1st, 2014 until January 1st, 2016, we were forbidden from signing any players.
The club would then appeal towards the CAS, but nothing would change. No signings allowed throughout 2015.
After years of expectation and backdealings, the board got their golden prize: the socis approved the plan to renew the Camp Nou. This was Rosell’s & Co second big victory after the 12-13 La Liga title.
Jordi Moix led the campaign the club held throughout Catalunya, where the showed all the benefits of the new stadium, while travelling around and spending 3 million euros while doing it. Money from the club that the socis never authorized the board to use in such manner. And, curiously, the board only cared about travelling and making it easy so THEIR point of view would be noticed.
Manifest Blaugrana tried to hold a meeting at the Camp Nou so they could show the socis why they shouldn’t approve the new stadium, but the club forbade them for letting socis know about it as they were entering. Curious, huh?
“What the socis are worried about is how we are gonna pay for it”. Obviously, Bartomeu. Most of us are well aware how much the Camp Nou was originally gonna cost in 1957, and how much it ended up costing (basically the double). And we had to sell the best player on the world back then, Luis Suarez, to help the debt. Which didn’t really help, and we were in such a dire financial situation, we didn’t win a League title for 14 years.
600 million euros is gonna be the cost, according to Bartomeu.
420mi for the stadium itself, 30mi for Espai Barça, 90mi for the new Palau Blaugrana, 40mi for the new parking and 20mi for the urbanistic part. The way were are gonna pay, all according to the board who said Neymar’s price was 57mi (period), is: 200mi from the club’s own funds (which us hilarious, considering we are still paying our debt, the debt this board promised to clear before we reformed the Camp Nou); 200mi from selling the naming rights (which is obscene, considering the only reason our stadium is named after Joan Gamper is because the Franco Dictatorship wouldn’t allow it. Apart from being a historical error, the biggest stadium in Europe and one of the oldest ones will never actually be called by whatever Qatar brand this board wants to place there); and the last 200mi from a new loan with the banks (another joke. The board who arrived saying we didn’t even have money to pay for color copies and players’ wages will now take up multi-million euros loans to build a stadium we don’t actually need right now?).
Now, to the good part: their lies.
It rains very rarely in Barcelona. As in very, very rarely. Yet, the board is adamant we need a covered stadium, so we are as modern as other European ones. Which would be great, if it wasn’t so expensive. And useless.
“The new stadium will generate 30mi euros/year to the club!”, he promised. Didn’t explain how they came up with the exact number, and couldn’t guarantee to socis there isn’t going to be an increase on the yearly fees so we can actually pay for it all!
Oh, and 10.000 socis from the first tier will be moved to someplace else, because all the new VIP boxes and shops need space to make us money!
Companies like ISG, AEG, Icon Venue Group and Ryder Levett Bucknall are responsible for the project, and were all hired by Rosell.
The thing is: the board never explained to socis why these companies have earned the right to get this monumental construction work. The socis simply do not know enough about this project.
But, out of the 108.858 socis that could have voted, only 37.535 showed up (which is abysmal, considering over 81.000 people attended the Betis match on the Camp Nou on the same day).
The project was approved by 72,36% of those who voted. 27.161 socis chose to give the people who were slowly eating away at our best ever team a check to spend 600mi euros in a project they didn’t really explain. 9.589 socis, most of those informed by the efforts made in social media to enlighten the situation, voted No.
A few weeks after the club was being investigated for fiscal fraud on the Neymar signing, and a few days after FIFA had banned us from signing players for a whole year, this board was getting exactly what they wanted the most.
So let make it clear what happened on that date: over 27.000 socis gave the go ahead to a project that wasn’t really a project of the reformed stadium just “mock ups”, which will cost 600mi euros, but they didn’t tell us exactly why they chose the companies that are charging this exact price. And we don’t know who they want as the naming rights owner, too. It’s simply too little info given about something so important, something that could make or break our club in a way we would need decades to recover from.
Jordi Moix cried of happiness that day. I hope none of us cry when it’s revealed who is behind the naming rights and sweet construction contracts who will be signed.
This time, I want Johan Cruijff to be wrong…
June 3rd, 2014: Sandro Rosell was (finally) indicted for the Neymar Case
The Judge decided to indict Rosell for fiscal fraud in the Neymar deal. That way, Sandro would have the honor of going with FC Barcelona, as both were being indicted, and explain himself before the judge, as he has been asking since January…
July 7th, 2014: Another part of our soul is sent away. This time, Txema Corbella
But also brought his own staff, and didn’t want old members of the dressing room to mess with work and possibly leak info to the press, something which Lucho abhors.
So he asked for the head of Txmela Corbella, a beloved kitsman who has been at this club for over 30 years. And was fired after being called to Zubi’s office and being told his time was up.
I’m aware that neither Bartomeu or Zubizarreta wanted to fire Txema, and only did what the new coach asked.
But it does not work like that.
A club does not fire someone who has spent literally DECADES being loved by the dressing room and fans because the new guy in town sees fits to not have him around.
Luis Enrique also tried to do the same with Pepe Costa, who is one of Messi’s best friends, so much, in fact, Pepe was allowed to stay with the Argentina NT during the World Cup.
But Bartomeu saw the reaction from the players and fans after Txema dismissal and kept Pepe Costa.
You do not fire people who have decades of services in this club because of a request. Never.
July 22nd, 2014: Rosell finally gets his wish
So, 6 months after taunting the Judge, he got his wish.
For 3 hours they talked. Rosell said the 40mi euros were paid as an compensation to Neymar’s company, and the other 17,1mi for his federative rights. Yes, Rosell was still saying we had spent 57,1mi euros on Neymar, months after the club had revealed it had been 86mi!
Here’s my favorite part: Rosell said that after being indicted, he read each clause of the contract and could only praise the club’s lawyers for their job.
Then he got on a taxi, wave to the press without uttering a word, and left. The case still goes on…
August 27th, 2014: Douglas aka Traffic strikes again
Only mentioning his signing because it is offensive. Not only did this board sign a player who wasn’t even good enough for the Brazilian League and it’s kick-and-rush football, but he “happened” to have come to the club with the help from the same people who brought us Henrique and Keirrison, players we spent a lot of money on and didn’t play a single second for us.
Third time is the charm, right? 5,5mi euros for a player who won’t even play 7 matches this season, and while Luis Enrique does defend him from time to time, it’s clear he’s just taking one for the team. No team in Europe chased Douglas. Hell, no other big team in Brazil was even tempted to approach him.
But we, with Traffic and the people they have close to our club, managed to steal from us again, only this time, they decided to let the player in the squad to remind us of their audacity.
May our next board never repeat this shameful link between Traffic and FC Barcelona.
Albert Valentin is no longer an employee of the club. May Juan Figer be banned as well.
September 15th, 2014: Their revenge had failed
In fact, Laporta had left the club in a surplus. I’ve written about it here: http://lucasammr.com/2014/10/28/revenge-is-a-dish-best-not-served/
October 1st, 2014: Neymar Sr. talks before the judge
Real Madrid really did offer 150mi euros for Neymar, but the player preferred FCB due to its “power of seduction”. Regarding the several contracts Sandro Rosell signed, Neymar Sr. was featured in one, and he was supposed to receive a salary for scouting youth players, work that he said to still be doing for the club. He said the same about another contract, where he received money as Neymar’s agent, which he also confirmed to still be.
Then came the interesting part: Nestor Amela, FCB’s FCO, informed that the club had set apart another 8,8mi euros, for “possible spenditures during the lawsuit”. He wasn’t including on the 13,5mi euros the club had already paid.
So, right now, Neymar transfer’s cost is: 10mi (2011), 86,2mi (2013), 13,5mi (2014) and, possibly another 8,8mi which adds to 118,5mi euros.
Talk about financial engineering!
October 31st, 2014: The CAS Appeal
It was only a maneuver so he could keep complaining about how unfair FIFA had been, how Masia is so perfect and doesn’t deserve such punishment.
But, finally, he stopped talking about “black hands”. Now, it happened due to “administrative errors”.
Yes, Bartu. From you and Rosell who sit on this problem for 14 months and did nothing to fix it.
November 26th, 2014: Not about revenge now, but self-preservation
The judge had ruled that Laporta’s board committed no crimes during their tenure. No financial losses, but a surplus.
And as most as any reasonable person would expect the current board to drop it and finally move on from their lies, from the crime they committed in cooking the books to hang Laporta and their people out to dry.
But here’s the catch: if they didn’t appeal, Laporta and 17 other ex-board members could now sue Rosell’s board for the 4 years they had to go through as criminals.
So they did appeal.
And it may take years until a new verdict is reached.
At least they had the decency to call off the second lawsuit that would force Laporta and 7 board members to each pay 3mi euros from their pockets.
December 30th, 2014: CAS, predictably, denied the appeal
It was clear Bartomeu was only going as far as he could in appealing against FIFA’s Transfer Ban so the press (and the socis who believe in it) would believe he battle such “injustice” until the end.
And the appeal was denied.
Bartomeu, being the leader and brave figure he is, only released a short video on the club’s website condemning the decision and saying, as always, that La Masia is too good for rules.
This was the last big blow this board has received, such a blow that could cause the most chaotic week in the club and fans have witnessed in a long, long time.
January 4th, 2015: Happy New Year, Happy New Board
All we needed to see this board shaken in such a manner, fans are now excited for change, after years under the rule of this rancorous, petty board.
After losing to La Real at Anoeta (as always), Zubizarreta made his last ever statement as our Sporting Director.
Signing Song, taking 3 years to bring a CB and when he did finally did, paid 20mi euros for Mathieu (when he could have bought him the previous year for 5-8mi euros), and 10mi euros for Vermaelen (when he had been told by the medical department the player needed injury and shouldn’t be signed) and helping out Traffic and signing Douglas. All of that didn’t get Zubi fired.
Remind everyone that Bartomeu was the Sporting Vice-President when FIFA first warned us of the rules we had been breaking regarding the youth players, however, hit home.
Zubi spent years accepting criticism for several decisions he did not make. Rosell forced Tata Martino on him; he had absolutely nothing to do with Neymar’s signing, it was Rosell by himself; Suarez’s was a request from Luis Enrique, who also forced Zubi to sign Bravo, since Lucho did not trust one of the best signings Zubi made, Ter Stegen. He took the hits and remained quiet.
But since he knew his time as Bartomeu’s shield was running out, he went out with dignity by point the finger at the culprit.
14 hours later, he was fired. Bartomeu thought that by firing Zubi, he would manage to calm things down after the CAS Appeal debacle.
But Messi had other plans: http://lucasammr.com/2015/01/05/d10s-writes-straight-with-crooked-lines/.
After Messi’s actions on January 5th (now showing up at training, following Chelsea on Instagram), the fire had risen. And it wasn’t gonna stop burning.
The pressure from all sides (press, his vice-presidents, the opposition) made him do what he should have done the second Rosell stepped down: call for elections.
And, on January 7th, 2014, Bartomeu, the President no one has ever voted for, let us know he is only gonna remain in power for 6 more months. Elections will finally take place.
Almost 1 year after the most voted President ever had fled, we were told we will now choose our next board.
And our work does not end here. We must watch what Bartomeu will do closely, especially what contracts he signs on the months he has left.
And when he does call for elections and sets a date, we begin watching the candidates, and making sure they have clear ideas of what this club needs, and that nothing that happened on the last 5 years can be repeated.
It’s time we start rebuilding from the rubble of Rosell’s reign.
January 15th, 2015: FC Barcelona is slipping out of the economic elite
So, imagine this board’s surprise, a few days after calling for elections, that the new Deloitte report showed the club has been stagnated at 485mi euros for 3 years, and returned to the position we were on 2007/08. Our distance to the richest clubs in Europe is growing, while PS/City/Chelsea are getting closer and closer to us.
When Laporta took over in 2003, we were 13th on the same ranking, with a revenue similer to Newcastle’s. In 6 years under Laporta’s rule, we overcame Manchester United and became the 2nd richest club on Earth and earned about the same Real Madrid did.
In global terms, the growth seen on the 20 clubs the form the economic elite has been of 14%, while FCB’s revenues have actually DECREASED 1% since 2011/12, a period in each the other 4 richest clubs have seen a growth of 40%!
The board’s excuse (they always have one), is that this has been happening due to our recent poor performances on the pitch. Which is utter nonsense.
We reached the second position in 2007/08 after winning no titles whatsoever, which shows that it doesn’t matter how we are doing on the pitch if there is an actual enomic plan in place, as Manchester United has showed. Even though they finished their last season in 7th and didn’t qualify for any European competition, they have kept growing.
They excuse was not good enough. We keep failing on all areas.
On February 2015, for the first time in its History, FC Barcelona was charged with tax fraud over the Neymar signing. One year later, also for the first time in it’s History, we now have a President being charge with the exact same crime, for the exact same transfer.
The Judge decided to charged Rosell with 2 tax frauds and 1 partnership one, to keep charging FC Barcelona for the fraud they identified last year and added a fresh new charge: the President no one voted for did not pay over 2,8mi euros in taxes owed in 2014 regarding those famous 40mi euros we owed Neymar’s company.
In fact, the club hasn’t paid any taxes regarding Neymar’s deal since 2011, which comes to a total of 12mi euros.
Right now, the Spanish fiscal authorities say we have spent 82mi signing Neymar, and another 12mi in owed taxes. And remember: there are going to be PENALTY TAXES, so Neymar’s price will keep rising…
And how did Bartomeu respond? With the usual “there’s a black hand” excuse, naturally! The one he used against FIFA, only to later confess there wasn’t any black hand, and the club had actually committed “administrative errors”. But now, Bartomeu went overboard!
He actually had the balls to say we are being attacked to the club’s support towards the Catalan Independence! Which is BULLSHIT!
FC Barcelona signed the Independence Pact after being pressured by several socis groups, and the board, who had promised to keep the senyera as the third kit “forever”, stopped using it all together after September. So, no Bartomeu, we are not being punished for something we don’t even do!
Oh, and Real Madrid was again the culprit in Bartomeu’s eyes. If you have read until here, you know very well this board IS the black hands that have been killing our club month after month since 2010. They don’t need help in sinking us…