specials | 2015-03-27
Fourteen to Zero - Part One
The Beginning of the End
Sandro Rosell and the current board of directors have caused incalculable damage to Futbol Club Barcelona. This is the claim of many worried fans after a trophyless season and a long period of institutional instability. In this special series, you will find a well crafted timeline of the events that led our club to the current troubled times the club is going through.
Introduction and Rosell's Campaign Promises
“If I don’t sign Figo, I will pay an entire year's worth of membership fees for all Real Madrid members.” That promise led Florentino Pérez to his first tenure as Real Madrid President, whereas Lorenzo Sanz, his main opponent, had just won the Champions League trophy for the second time as club President. How did Florentino bring Luís Figo to Real Madrid? He did so with the help of Sandro Rosell.
Rosell worked at Nike back then and became responsible for facilitating Figo to leave Nike, who at the time owned his image rights. Real Madrid wanted to profit from their new player, and Rosell assured Pérez that it was possible. "To us, the most important thing is the player, and if he wants to play at the Bernabéu, it won’t be an obstacle, even if we have to renounce his image rights," Rosell said.
Rosell, who had attended matches at the Camp Nou with his father during his childhood, was key to enabling Figo to become the most hated player of any Barcelona fan. For Rosell sees football as nothing but a business. Three years later, he became the Sporting Vice-President under Joan Laporta, and their friendship would only last a few months. Curiously, it all began to fall apart after a match against Real Madrid. Sandro wanted power to make decisions, but he wasn’t the President—so he left the board in 2005.
From 2008 to 2010, he became one of the strongest voices in the opposition, and tried to smear Laporta’s image in any way he could with the help of his friends at Group Godó, who happen to own Mundo Deportivo, La Vanguardia and Catalan Radio RAC1. Rosell had a powerful media group by his side. He decided to run for President in 2010. These were his positions and promises:
- We will change the statutes so the members will have greater participation.
- We helped create the current sporting model, we will not change it.
- In five years, I imagine a strong Futbol Club Barcelona.
- We will bring the women’s basketball team back.
- It’s possible to have a Supporting Stand without any kind of violence.
- I hold Johan Cruyff in very high regard.
- We desire to keep the sporting excellence seen nowadays.
- I don’t want to stop new members from registering, but I want to regulate it.
- Three words to describe my will to become President: feeling, passion and sport.
- The only different thing we want from the sporting sections is that in the short term most players will come from La Masia.
- The axis of the Economic Program: transparency, austerity and growth.
- The Barça Model will have key elements in the formation of people, transfer of values and fair play. To start our sporting model, we will complete the new La Masia building and will build buildings for the other sporting sections.
- We will manage the signings accordingly and we will sell players by planning it beforehand.
- When it comes to signings, the priority will always be the squad. We will inform the members in a detailed manner.
- We will improve the medical facilities and build a new High Performance Space, modern and comfortable.
- We won't intervene with any sporting section and the technical staff as the model works.
- We will keep UNICEF on the shirt.
- I want to unite the club, not divide it.
- The project for the Camp Nou reform (Project Foster) is too expensive, approximately €250 million.
- We want to change the matches timeslots so the small children can attend.
- Espai Barça is going to cost €150 million and it's going to happen in 6 to 8 years.
Rosell won with over 35,000 votes—the largest victory in the club's history. His tenure started in the 2010/2011 season. At this time, Barcelona had recently won the treble (2008/2009) and the one-of-a-kind sextuple, two consecutive La Liga titles, a Champions League trophy, and boasted the best coach and player in the world in Josep Guardiola and Lionel Messi, respectively. During Rosell's campaign, Laporta was viciously attacked as Rosell used his connections in the media to discredit him. Rosell nonetheless pointed out three positives from Laporta's presidency: Pep Guardiola, removing the extreme and violent fans from the Camp Nou, and UNICEF.
In under five years, most of Joan Laporta's legacy was heavily damaged as a result of the following events:
June 13, 2010 - The Beginning of the End
Sandro Rosell and his board were chosen by the Barcelona members. The most votes a FCB President has ever received: 61,35%. After years of criticizing Joan Laporta and facing weak opposition, he was now the President.
July 6, 2010 - Cruyff Leaves the Club
Sandro Rosell claimed Johan Cruyff's position as Honorary President should be questioned, treated him with hostility and insisted for years that he would want him far away from the Futbol Club Barcelona. Cruyff then entered the club's offices and returned his Honorary president badge.
One of the biggest legends in Barcelona's history, who caused a revolution in 1973 and gave us our first Liga title in fourteen years and helped Catalans recover their self esteem after decades under Spanish Dictator Franco, who would die shortly after Cruyff's arrival to Barcelona..
Cruyff returned in 1988, coaching the Dream Team, displaying a superb playing style that led to comparisons with the American Basketball team that won the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He won four Liga titles and our first Champions League trophy (called European Cup at the time), once again breaking a long period of agony for the fans and laying the foundations for the model La Masia would use: possession, triangulations, priority to the midfielders, constant use of wingers, attractive football and no victimization when it comes to the rivalry with Real Madrid, who did lose 5-0 to Cruyff both as player and coach.
Laporta brought Johan Cruyff back in 2003 after being elected as Barcelona President and placed his trust on Frank Rijkaard as manager, a man who had just relegated Rotterdam from the Eredivisie. Together with Ronaldinho, he returned the club to where it belongs: winning two La Liga titles and our first Champions League in 14 years again with an attractive style of football.
Johan Cruyff advised Joan Laporta to appoint Josep Guardiola as first team manager. The man who put us on the highest pedestal ever achieved in football, 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 eight years.
That's the man Sandro Rosell and his board ostracized from our club, the one person who shaped our past, present and future.
October 10th, 2010 - The First of Many Lies
Dmytro Chygrynskiy was signed by the previous Barcelona board from Shakhtar Donetsk for €25 million. The reigning board under Rosell announced that he had to be sold as soon as possible because the club had no money to spare to pay the Ukrainian wages after the “mismanagement of the previous board”. Chygrynskiy was sold to his former club for €15 million in July resulting in a loss of €10 million in less than a year. The board lied.
In October 2014, Barcelona Spokesman Toni Freixa revealed in a radio interview that the club didn't need to sell the player to pay players wages, as it was claimed at the time. It finally came to light the reason why Chygrynskiy was sold: Sandro Rosell wanted to show to Guardiola who the captain of the ship is. The manager wanted to keep the player after a lackluster season.
Sandro Rosell lied about finances to get rid of a player he didn’t deem good enough to remain at the club. A President, someone who claimed he wouldn't interfere with sporting sections, made a maneuver to prove a point towards the coach who just had won two La Liga trophies and a Champions League title in two years.
It was just the beginning.
October 14th, 2010 - €250 million was too much for a new stadium
The Forster Project to renew the Camp Nou for €250 million was considered a “Pharaonic Idea” by Sandro Rosell , leading the board to have the urbanization plans suspended by the Catalan Government. It was too expensive, the club was broke and it wasn't necessary to renew the Camp Nou.
October 16th, 2010 - The Revenge Begins
Sandro Rosell, who attacked the previous board for years, hired an accounting company to audit the club's financial books from the Joan Laporta tenure. The books were adulterated to make the club to appear to be in the red due to precarious administration, leading the members assembly to vote in what was called the “most important decision in the social aspect of the club's history”.
468 voted in favor, 439 against and 113 abstained (Sandro Rosell among them). A difference of 29 votes sealed the previous board’s fate. For such an important decision, the division between members was clear and years later it all came to light: the Barcelona board lost the case, they lied to the members and Joan Laporta left the club in good financial health with a surplus.
The biggest problem wasn't the lie but the collateral damage it caused, during four long years Joan Laporta and several of his board members suffered greatly. Smeared by the press and attacked by some fans, who started calling them liars at the Camp Nou and most of them stopped attending home matches. Living in anguish because each of them could end up paying €3 million due to false accusations for a crime they didn't commit.
Therefore Joan Laporta was considered a thief by some members. A bad President. Someone who had led the club to glory, but also committed frauds. Sandro Rosell even had the press post some of his expenses like money spent on restaurants. The despicable destruction of his image was completed.
As those families continue to suffer, one of them is currently battling cancer, the current Barcelona board decided to appeal the judge's decision. A defining win will take time, but justice will finally come for those that returned our club to glory after years of pain and failure.
December 10th, 2010 - The day the shirt was stained
Five months, that's all it took for Sandro Rosell to do something that had never been done before in over a hundred years of Barcelona's history, to sell the sanctity of our shirt, a club that didn't need sponsors before and could spare €5 million euros per year in donations to UNICEF because it shared the club's values and support an organization with their superb work. Sandro Rosell presented Qatar Foundation as a philanthropic institution just like UNICEF, but instead of paying them, the club would receive around €30 million per season in five years, with a bonus in case the club won the Champions League. FC Barcelona’s known and admired tradition was tarnished for what is nowadays considered a deal made to guarantee a boost in the club financial reports until the board tenure ends.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
The views and opinions expressed on this article are of the author only and do not reflect those of Grup 14 or any of its members. The content here belongs to Grup 14 and its many collaborators.