Lucky

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Anyone who’s ever looked for it, knows that finding videos, especially full matches, with Pelé and Garrincha is pretty much impossible. A fired happened in Brazil, and most was lost forever.

Cruijff played in the 70s, but you can only watch one of his FCB matches in color.

Zico has scored over 100 free kick goals during his career, but you simply cannot find most of them nowadays. Zico played in the 80s, mind you. The same can be said about Platini, especially his years in France.

Only in the 90s, most away matches were broadcast in Europe, which means we are the luckiest generation of football fans to have ever lived. We are spoiled, even more so those of us who support FC Barcelona.

People who lived during the Pelé Era did not watch all of his matches, especially not the away ones. The same goes to Garrincha, Di Stéfano, Puskas, Muller, Beckenbauer, Maradona (especially his first years in Argentina). Hell, brazilians missed a lot of Romário matches during the 90s.

Nowadays, not only do we get to watch every single match imaginable, even friendlies, in Full HD, but immediately after they’re over YouTube gets full of “Messi vs Certain Team Home/Away” videos. A few minutes after we won the Cup against Sevilla yesterday, there was already both a “Messi vs Sevilla Neutral”, and a compilation of all of his 41 goals and 23 assists in 15/16.

We are extremely lucky. Actually, we are spoiled.

Messi has played 638 official matches so far. That’s over 950 HOURS. All the great players I listed earlier played more than him before retiring, naturally.
But the fans from each of those eras never watched them as frequently, or as much.
The luckiest ones got to watch all home matches, at most. Pelé owned Vila Belmiro, Di Stéfano the Bernabeu… but not even the most devout fan got to watch these players for over 950 hours. It was simply not feasible.

We do.

We get to watch Messi, Iniesta, Busquets, Pique and Suarez write history twice a week, and to top it off, we can spend hours on YouTube watching every pass, every ball control, every assist, every pre-assist, every dribble and every single time they refused to dive. Over, and over again. We are constantly exposed to greatness.

We are lucky to be living during Messi playing years. But the fact we can watch and rewatch every single move he makes on any football pitch around the world… that is simply being blessed.

Enjoy the goals, and the wins, the trophies. But remember most football fans in History never watched their idols like we currently do.

The Father

Johan CRUYFF - The Flying Dutchman.png

Tragedies sometimes are the reason good things come our way. People who have been through unspeakable tragedies, and are able to grow past them, are usually grateful bad things came their way, cause it made them better. Your history with football started with a tragedy, Johan, when you lost your father.

Had your father not died when you were so young, maybe you wouldn’t have joined Ajax at 10. After all, after his passing, your mother started working at the club and would then meet her new husband, also a club employee. And that opened the doors for you, the skinny little ball who spent most of his time on the streets of Amsterdam, with a ball and nothing else.

It wasn’t long before you were training with their first team, and what happened after your debut, well, it’s yet to be matched by any other football player to date: 3 straight Champions League titles, 3 Ballon D’Ors to go with them. Europe has never produced a player nearly as good as you, and certainly not one who has been able to win so many titles, with so much dominance over their rivals.

1973 is a special year to every single culer alive, especially those who are old enough to have witnessed the change you cause on FC Barcelona. 14 years without a La Liga title, and you landed. The best player in the world set out to win the League the fans craved so much. And you did so after going to the Bernabeu and crushing them 0-5, scoring twice.

You brought a change of mentality around Barcelona, around Catalunya. When you refused to obey what the Spanish authorities told you, and registered your first born Jordi, you made Catalans more proud than you could have imagined. Back then, they couldn’t even register their children with a catalan spelling. And you just ignored what the Spanish were saying and did it anyway.

You also ignored common sense in 1978. You knew the horrors of the argentine dictatorial government, and refused to attend their World Cup. And you were absolutely right: while Argentina beat your team on the final, people were literally beyond tortured a few meters away from the pitch.

Awareness. That’s the thing that had always set you apart from anyone else in football. You played with your heads up, ordering your team mates around, to fill the space you knew would cause danger. It was only natural you’d become a coach, but what happened after you did, the change you brought about… far from being natural.

You also started coaching in the Netherlands. But the 8 years you spent as FC Barcelona coach have rewritten our club’s history for the better. After you left in 1978, we only managed to win one League, and the pessimism reached new heights among culers during the 80s.

La Masia had been founded in 1978, but only when you took over as coach in 1988, and brought the mentality of someone who developed in Ajax’s academy, FCB started to treat football like it should always be treated: something to bring joy to those who play, and those who watch.

That’s exactly what you did on Wembley. And precisely what you said to our players: “Go out there and enjoy yourselves”. And they did. Koeman made sure of that. And us culers have been enjoying ourselves ever since. 5 UCL titles later, and 13 League titles, we are the team with most overall titles in Spain, Europe and in International Competitions.

And we reached said success playing, most of times, the way you pushed us to do during your time as coach. And the success we are currently living happened because people you looked after, especially Guardiola, were actually paying attention to everything you taught them.

Pep did such a good job, that his Barcelona inspired Spain to win 2 Euros and 1 World Cup in just 4 years, using not only the same idea of football, but especially players that developed on the Masia you planned: Puyol, Pique, Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta.

The best number 9 to ever grace a football field, Romário, once said: “Football is supposed to be seen through Cruijff’s eyes”. And on the day those eyes will stop looking at a football pitch for good, all we are left with are tears.

A few weeks back, you said you were winning 2-0 your match against the disease, but you were only at half-time. In the second most important match of you life, that one against Germany in 1974, sadly the opposition also turned the match around. But, just like then, you losing only turned your name into legend, and undying one.

The last I heard from you, was after Messi pulled your penalty. Yes, I’m aware a couple of people pulled it before you did, but every single football fan had it seared on their brains that that was a Cruijff Penalty. You said that had made you very, very happy. Messi, the pinnacle of La Masia, the pinnacle of the change you brought in Catalunya and our club, had made you happy during your toughest fight. We were the ones happy when you said that.

FC Barcelona will win its 14th La Liga title since 1988 in a few weeks.

14 titles after you took over and turned a losing club into an European giant. That’s the best homage we could possibly make, but we’ll try to reach the San Siro and give you an even better one.

Your history in football started after your father passed away, Johan.
And today, those of us who love football, are all orphans as well.

Messi’s Fiscal Case

Lionel Messi appears in court charged for tax fraud

No, Messi is not going to prison. Let’s be very clear about that before going any further.

In Spain, if you do not have prior criminal convictions, you will not get jail time if you are sentenced to less than 2 years. If Messi’s case goes south, he would only get 22 months.

So, no jail, for those worried/excited about that.

Ok, so let’s talk about the last couple of days regarding Messi’s legal case, with the help of my friend @siemprepositifo. You should be following him already, but if you aren’t, start now.

Yesterday, the Spanish Fiscal Authorities decided to only charge Messi’s father and took Messi out of the equation. Proper journalists were tweeting since yesterday that the case was not over for Messi yet, but the usual sport newspapers didn’t care. Messi wasn’t “free to go”.

Today, the District Attorney’s Office ruled they will go after Messi, and, if he’s found guilty, he would be sentenced to 22 months in prison. But he won’t go to prison, as we already explained.

@siemprepositifo, a lawyer, just like me, read the ruling and told me the following: “I think Messi won’t be found guilty, because it seems easy to prove that he wasn’t the one dealing with the actual money management, so he couldn’t possibly have acted with the intent to commit any wrongdoing”.

“As to his father, it is probable that he reaches a deal with some sort of penalty fee and a light prison sentence, one he would not actually have to go through”.

That’s it. The last 48 hours actually are good news to Messi regarding this fiscal case.

If the Spanish Fiscal Authority saw fit to remove him from the lawsuit, it only means one thing: his lawyers were able to convince the court that he had nothing to do with any crime commited.

The same lawyers will now be given the chance to argue before a different judge and the District Attorney to prove this exact point again. If the country’s Fiscal Authority heard them the first time, most likely the DA also will now.

To those worrying/gloating about all this, let’s have a little recap:

  • the money laundering case against Messi has been dismissed
  • The Spanish Fiscal Authorities have found his involvement is so irrelevant he was removed from the main law suit
  • Whatever the DA is arguing now, couldn’t possibly ever land him in jail.

Messi’s entourage fucked up. That’s clear to anyone who spent actual time reading what this lawsuit is about.

But remember we are talking about something that happened 6-7 years ago. They have learned their lesson by now. Or, at least they should have…

PS: No, I’m not “coming back”. But whenever something so out of the ordinary happens, especially when it comes to Messi, I’ll pop up to help make things clearer.

Hope all is well with everyone. (Well, not with Mathieu, who has been fucking us sideways and making Ter Stegen take the blame, but…)

Fish and Sheep

After 5 long years of struggle, of trying to make sure our club’s future would be in the hands of people who actually care about it and not only themselves, after 3 years where I have literally wrote thousands of words on how Rosell and Bartomeu have destroyed everything our club represents, or at least used to represent, I quit.

Bartomeu was already the favorite the win the elections, but after Arda Tura’s signing, a signing what will go down in the history of our club as the one we couldn’t wait 13 days to sign a player that would only actually play for us in 6 months, it’s inevitable.

After kicking Cruijff out of the club, saying we didn’t even have the money to pay our bills, pursuing Laporta and his board for crimes that they would be proven innocent of years later, selling our shirt to a slave country that is Qatar, killing our 80 year old basketball team, signing Neymar in such a criminal fashion the club is now charged for tax fraud and corruption for the first time in its 115 year history, pushing Guardiola out of the club, doing the same with Oscar Garcia and several other La Masia coaches, promising to renew Abidal and kicking him out of the club, bringing the Ultras back to the stadium, selling Thiago for peanuts, getting a signing ban from FIFA after doing nothing about it for 13 months, firing Txema Corbella, signing Douglas, making our club drop from 2nd to 4th richest in the world, destroy La Masia by changing its directors twice, selling our most prized identity to Nike and allowing a horizontally striped shirt… Bartomeu won.

Of course the Triple had given him a lot of chances of winning. But even without it, the support from Grup Godo, the owners of Mundo Deportivo, RAC1 and La Vanguardia would guarantee that Bartomeu would at least compete. But Godo’s support paired with the Triplete and fact that FCB socis are, in their vast majority, conservatives, and now the Managing Board’s final push with Arda Turan’s signing, even though it did not have the authority to make signings… it’s done.

We foreign FCB fans need to come to terms with a hard truth: the majority of FCB socis, the ones that actually choose and vote for President, do not think like us. They do not have access to the same information we do, and even if they did, they wouldn’t care. Being conservatives, they care about keeping the status quo. Changing things does not suit them. That why, since 1978, we’ve only had one President that cared about the club more than his personal interests: Laporta. And he only became President because we were in our worst sporting situation in several years.

People like him, that believe in Cruijff and that La Masia is the key to our success, are not the majority. Far from it. Nunez was kept in power for 22 years because he represented the conservative vote. Then came Gaspart. Then Rosell. And now Bartomeu. The status quo has to be kept, changes are not welcome, and if we are winning, changes are simply not needed. Cruijff “was a moneygrabber”, and Rexach “was the one with all the actual plans”. They are the same people who call Guardiola “the Dalai Lama”, and who wanted to sell Messi last year…

I always knew that. But after the Neymar Case and the tax fraud and corruption, I sincerely thought socis would think of the club instead of focusing on their fears. Not even the fact Bartomeu is the only candidate who will renew with Qatar made them change their minds. Qatar, a slave state where 300 thousand people treat the other 1.4 million people that live there like slaves, will be on our shirts until 2021, and for many more years on our new stadium.

Make no mistake: Qatar Airways (or any other name associated with Qatar Sports Investment, the Qatari government branch which we signed our secretive contract with) Camp Nou will be a reality by 2017. Qatar may even buy the land in which the Camp Nou is currently built…

Now was our last chance, after 5 years where Rosell and Bartomeu made it very clear how inept they were, to put our club back on track. But with Bartomeu’s election (his first, don’t forget it), even if he’s arrested for tax fraud and corruption (something I doubt will actually happen, since bribing judges is common in Spain), Cardoner would step in. These people will not go away until 2021. And I simply lack the energy to continue shouting at the wind until then.

For that, I cannot continue. Democracy has to be always respected, but if the people who vote to decide on my club’s future see fit to give 6 more years to a man charged with tax fraud and who will renew with the country that has already killed 1.200 slave workers to build stadium for a World Cup they bought… then they do not represent me.

Sheep, the lot of them. All I have to say to them is this:
‘You get what you deserve’. It’s an old saying. One that survived the years, because it’s true. For the most part. But not for everyone. Some get more than they deserve. Because they believe they aren’t like everyone else. That the rules, the ones people like me and you, the people that work and struggle to live our lives, just live, don’t apply to them. That they can do anything and live happily ever after, while the rest of us suffer. They do this from the shadows. Shadows that we cast. With our indifference. With a pervasive lack of interest in anything that doesn’t directly affect us, we, in the here and now.

May they enjoy Bartomeu, and whoever Grup Godo tells them to vote for in 2021.

I can only say thank you to the over 13 thousand people who decided to read my daily rants on twitter, and to the 280 thousand people that have read my longer rants on this blog over the years. I never thought people from 190 countries would read what I had to say about football. Thanks for that surprise.

Guardiola, the best culer we have, said goodbye to us in 2012 saying: “Keep your seatbells tight. I’m leaving, but this all continues without me”. I’d like to say to same, but just making it clear it’s due to the people who will drive the car for the next 6 years. I’ll keep loving the ride, from a distance.

Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.

So long, and thanks for all the fish. Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya.

Cruijff: “Philosophy, not signings”

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Johan Cruijff was interviewed by Marca after announcing his support to Laporta: http://www.marca.com/2015/07/01/futbol/equipos/barcelona/1435739482.html

Here’s the full interview in English:

How are you seeing the elections campaign?
These are things that are hard to talk about right now, because we need to see who will present themselves and how everything will turn out. Barcelona is very ambiguous and there’s something for everyone. In my opinion, values should come before money, which is something which should never come first. Before everything else comes the principles, the values, this is the most important thing, money is secondary.

Do you think it was necessary to call these elections?
Of course, it was really important. In the sporting side it has been an exceptional year, with good football and titles. But it wasn’t all that happened, we also lost values, like La Masia.
In the other hand, FC Barcelona has won by a landslide the world record for tweets regarding judicial matters and that cannot be. We need to be serious. The boost from Barcelona to help the world with UNICEF has been the biggest there ever was. With that choice UNICEF gained a lot of social presence. And that no longer happens.

Does what happened to La Masia hurt you the most?
When Barcelona wasn’t doing well, there were two very important choices in its way of playing and thinking, that were the signings of Rijkaard and Guardiola. Both stayed 8 years in the first team, putting in place a project where La Masia was a magical word, and now that no longer happens.

What has happened?
I don’t know, but it’s a problem. Everything regarding the signings looks good to me, but everyone else does that. The values are basic stuff not only during elections, but also in life.

Solving this issues if responsibility of the next President?
These are 2 or 3 of the basic questions. That’s why I’m glad there will be elections where some are leaving and others are coming in. In Laporta’s time, it’s was advised that all good players from our various teams should study.
Masip was an example, I know because he was in my school. The objective was for him to study and prepare himself so in the end he could help our sporting teams keep their good level. The idea is that these kind of players, with this formation and studies, could eventually manage one of our teams. Now this formation no longer happens.

What do you think about the FIFA signing ban?
I haven’t got the slightest clue about such matters, but there are several rules that you cannot break. It’s been years since we’ve heard anything from La Masia, I don’t know why they did it.

Does it affect the club’s prestige?
Everyone is glad by the way Barcelona plans, but each passing time there’s less people. Signing players, all clubs in the world can do that. I want to set things apart.

You are proposing a change, then?
That will be decided by those who vote. One thing is how the first team works and another is how the club works. These are very different things. The first team has won everything while Barça B has been relegated. That is a problem.

Every day there are news about Neymar’s signing. How badly was this operation handled?
I don’t have the slightest idea about what they did regarding this matter, but it’s a shame for the player because he’s always in the eye of the hurricane for subjects off the field. Neymar has to play football to get better and grow in several aspects, which will only happen if he plays football. Nevertheless, he’s always associated with negative stuff.

You didn’t trust in the understanding between Neymar and Messi, and now Suarez is with them. Did it surprise you?
It isn’t a question if it was expected or not. All 3 are excellent footballers coming from a year without winning anything, which always helps in managing things in a different way. All 3 had a perfect year indeed.

The change that occurred in January was due to what?
Those are details that people don’t ever realize.

What details are you talking about?
It makes no sense to talk about them. They are very important details and before January RM was going to win everything and at Barcelona it was the complete opposite. If you pay attention, it’s easy to notice, but if I say it myself people will say it’s because I’m in favor of one and against another. There were details on each side, and one was going up while the other was going down.

You signed Luis Enrique. What did you see in him?
He was a winger and we played with wingers, it was a very important position for the team and it required a great physical preparation. He was 2 in 1 because he could handle both the prototype of an offensive fullback and that of one defensive winger. With Goiko we had the same situation. He had a character that always made him give 100% on his play.
These are the kinds of things you look at when you sign a player. Signing a name does not make any sense, that’s stuff for newspapers, you have to bring someone to the group who brings something to a deficit the team may have. In the end you sign to improve the people you have around you.

Right now Luis Enrique is a hero, but in January he was almost fired.
I see things differently, this about going up and down comes from the press, there’s very little knowledge from a high level of football. He has done a great job.

And he counted with a Leo Messi who has surpassed himself yet again.
Look at his statistics and look at his personal life. All of that influences in any professional sportsman, because everything has to be perfect so one can be at 100%. And if that isn’t the case, you need to see why it doesn’t work. Why was so he so great during the season, and right now, not so much with Argentina? I don’t want to say he isn’t doing well, but he doesn’t have the success he had in Barcelona. The details mark the difference.
Again with the details. Which?
I don’t dare to say it, it wouldn’t make sense because I’m not there. If I say anything, it would be just be what I think is happening. And then everyone is gonna talk about what I say.

Why are you campaigning for Laporta?
I’m with Laporta above all due to the values. First we need to see how Barcelona was in 2003, before he came in, and then see how it was after he left. You see what he did and you can see his worth. In all the teams, in how the players were studying, helping the kids around the world by giving the shirt to UNICEF, how La Masia was spreading around the world… These are values and I’m with them.

It’s clear that the Barcelona from 2010 was better than the one Laporta got in 2003. Is the 2010 team even better than the current one?
Seven court cases. La Masia does not exist, UNICEF does not exist… you tell me. To each his own. I do not say what they have to do, I say there were some values in 2010 and now there are none.

Would you work in the club if Laporta asked you?
I wouldn’t accept it. I’m his adviser, I don’t want a position. I’m never going to enter the club because for that you actually need to be there. But, yes, I’ll give my opinion when asked.

And if they gave you the Honorary President medal again, would you accept it?
No, I have so many medals from so many countries that it wouldn’t miss it. That’s why, when they (Rosell) talked about the matter, I gave it back.

Can one win the elections without signing Pogba?
I talk about the philosophy, I don’t go about signing names. It’s not even worth the time to talk about it, it would be useless. It’s just a circus that is assembled by the press, something that does not impress me or interest me. The only thing they want is to sell newspapers. And of course Pogba is very good, I know him very well and he’s easygoing. How can anyone say that by signing a player you win an election if a President stays in power for 6 years?

ITF and Bartomeu

International_Transport_Workers'_Federation_(emblem)

The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) was pleased when, he was still the President, Bartomeu said he was thinking of not renewing with Qatar Airways.

That’s why they made sure to send the following letter to every single FCB Penya in the world:

Compliments to FC Barcelona followers,

In name of Qatar Airways’ workers – who describe the environment in which they work every day – and the construction workers who are made to risk their lives in the sites of the 2022 World Cup, we’d like to thank you all for considering the continuity of Qatar Airways as a FC Barcelona sponsor.

We believe yours is a great club with a great mission. That mission consists in representing the local community, the fans and its values. It’s hard to fulfil that mission while promoting an airline known for treating its staff in an inflexible and dictatorial manner. It’s a paradox. We are glad with the recent statements from Josep Maria Bartomeu, where he made it clear the club probably will not renew the sponsorship agreement in 2016. The President has listened to all – fans, workers and unions – that state that it’s incompatible with the blaugrana values and desires and that demand the contract with Qatar Airways is rescinded.

Josep Maria Bartomeu is right. In part, FC Barcelona is what it is due its conduct code and it’s faithfulness towards social responsibility. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways delegate, said in a quote used on FC Barcelona’s website that “Barça and Qatar Airways share the same values”. That’s an insult to the truth and the intelligence of the club’s fans.

Given the disturbing revelations about what’s happening in Qatar and its choice as a World Cup host, we’re safe in saying that FC Barcelona should never renew the sponsorship with Qatar Airways in 2016. We ask you that we help us to keep it that way. If you continue to show your unhappiness with the fact that your club carries the name of a condemned airline from a nation no one believes in, we’ll assure FC Barcelona will be making the right choice in 2016.

In solidarity,

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary at  the International Transport Worker’s Federation.

Thing is: that has changed completely.

Bartomeu has said several times he will renew with Qatar Airways, even saying “no one ever told me our club is now lesser for having Qatar Airways on our shirt”, and that “we have a strategic alliance with Qatar Airways, they have helped us grow”.

The concerns from the ITF will remain if Bartomeu is reelected. But Bartomeu will be surprised with what will happen this week.

Bartomeu: Unique

bartuFCB Elections are 26 days away, and right about now we still have 6 precandidates.

In 5 days, on July 27th, we’ll know who are the actual candidates: those who managed to get more than 2.534 soci signatures and will actually be allowed to run as FCB President.

Joan Laporta, Agusti Benedito. Maybe Toni Freixa.
But the most unique out of the 3 or 4 actual candidates is going to be Bartomeu.

He’s the ONLY candidate that:

– Back in 2008, said “voting No against Laporta is voting No to Cruijff”

– In 2010, lied and voted on the Responsability Lawsuit against Laporta (Freixa also voted here), something completely unbased that was ruled false by a Judge.

After promising Abidal would be renewed “after playing his first match”, let him leave the club by the backdoor.

Signed 9 out of the 11 contracts when we signed Neymar, an operation that made Rosell, Bartomeu as our club (for the first time in its history) be charged with tax fraud and corruption.

Once again: Bartomeu is the ONLY CANDIDATE running that is as we speak being charged with TAX FRAUD AND CORRUPTION for something he did while working at FC BARCELONA.

– As Sporting Vice-President, sat on his hands for 14 months after being told by FIFA they were looking into La Masia players

– Became the only person in the history of our club to be called President after having received zero votes from socis.

– After the FIFA Ban was announced, blamed it all on “black hands” from Madrid, to a few months after say it happened due to “administrative errors in La Masia”

– When appearing before a Judge regarding the Neymar Case, said “he would do it exactly the same again”. The Judge wants him in jail for 2 years if he’s found guilty of tax fraud on the player’s signing.

– Before signing Luis Enrique, wanted to renew Tata Martino until 2016

– Stalled Messi’s scheduled contract renewal for 9 months, only to try to change it all over again after it had been agreed upon.

– Ran a poll among socis in 2014 where one of the questions was: “Would you sell Messi? If so, for which price?”

– Fired Zubizarreta in January, 2015 for saying a simple fact: Bartomeu was the Sporting Vice-President during the events (or lack of actions) that lead to the FIFA Signing Ban

Hired Arieado Braida, a man with zero knowledge of our club or playing style, who wasn’t even good enough to keep working in AC Milan

Changed our shirt for the first time in 115 years, allowing Nike to come up with an horizontally stripped design that will “certainly be a success among foreign fans, who aren’t as tied to our historical values”.

– Demanded Fair Play from the other candidates after announcing there would be elections, but appeared in over 100 events as FCB President/Candidate, and several activites where the club’s money was spent so the candidate Bartomeu could talk about his “accomplishments”

One day before renewing Luis Enrique, said on a radio interview he… would not renew Luis Enrique. “That’s up to the next President, not me”. A right move, but he still lied.

– Out of the 6 precandidates, Bartomeu is the ONLY one who would renew with Qatar Airways. “It’s the only offer we received and IT’S WHAT WE WANT FOR THE CLUB’S FUTURE”.

– Said he would not use any signing promises during the elections, and before holding his first presser as candidate, already went and did just that. “Fair Play”.

PS: This article is going to be updated several times on the next month.