specials | 2015-03-30
Fourteen to Zero - Part Three
Empty Promises & More Lies
The third part of our series starts to unravel the real cost behind the Neymar operation and a €100m lawsuit that could cripple the club for years to come.
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.
Let us continue with details on the Neymar operation and the empty conspiracy theories.
March 1st, 2013 - The Ultras are back
Joan Laporta was the first President in Spanish football’s history with the courage to fight the ultras. The extreme fans! As FC Barcelona's President, he was attacked and threatened, but still managed to keep extremists away from the Camp Nou.
Sandro Rosell and the Barcelona board had other plans.
The first step was selling tickets to the ultras with lowered prices, and they were given plane tickets to attend away Champions League matches. It was speculated that the tickets were strategically sold cheap in batches without knowing whic people were receiving them.
After some fights in one of the sections of the Camp Nou where these individuals normally support the team, especially one incident involving a flare that was thrown on the pitch during a match against Real Madrid, the Police investigated and opened a disciplinary action against the club. This investigation revealed that Barcelona allowed the ultras to enter the stadium. Some of these ultras are literally inmates, who leave their prison cells during weekends and visit the Camp Nou for the lower prices.
They are still going to Barcelona matches. At the end of the 2013/14 season, some of them confronted Messi’s brother and father after the league was lost at home to Atlético Madrid, and months later were investigated under accusations of stabbing two PSG fans on the outskirts of the Camp Nou.
On March 7th, 2013, Catalunya Radio published a document which revealed Sandro Rosell signed on May 16th, 2010, which was before he began campaigning for the Presidency, with several ultra-groups, promising them a special supporters section inside the Camp Nou. The former Barcelona president was asked about such document and he denied its existence..
The document has the signatures of Sandro Rosell and Josep Lluís Sureda, the long-time leader of the Boixos Nois. Sureda was part of far-right groups like Estat Catalá and had connections with 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 left the door open to similar groups, as well as “other club members 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 “Grada d’Animació”. The majority of Rosell's board members were not aware of this document's existence, which proves that he not only lied to the members, but to his own board as well.
It was a questionable action, but, to Rosell, votes were more important for the upcoming elections, so he did not care if he got them from extremists, or if he was allowing these people to return to our stadium, which is, historically, a place where families visit together.
June 1st, 2013 - Abidal, our soul, had been lied to and left the club
Bartomeu personally guaranteed that Abidal would stay, and he lied. He lied to the fans, and to the Frenchman.
On December 20th, Cules were thrilled and very happy to see that a model player like Abidal, who was superb as a left back and centre back, was going to help the team for one more season, after having won all of his battles against the horrible disease that is cancer.
Bartomeu had lied. Abidal did play his first match for Barcelona after his return on April 6th, but the contract was not renewed automatically. Furthermore, it was not renewed at all. Many excuses were made, including “the medical department doesn't think he will be able to continue featuring as top level player” as the reason why his contract was not renewed.
Éric Abidal left the club in tears after a horrible press conference that highlighted everything that is wrong with the club. Monaco brought him back to Ligue 1 on a free transfer and he went on to play over 30 matches for Monaco, qualified for the Champions League, and even got a call up to the France National Team, after some good displays at club level.
One of the biggest examples of superation was gone because of money. Abidal’s renewal would have increased his wages and the board did not consider it worthwhile from a financial standpoint. The man that inspired millions with his fight against cancer, whom supporters and players loved and admired, who made a miraculous recovery and lifted our fourth Champions League trophy, did not matter to the board, because of an exaggerated issue with money.
June 3rd, 2013 - Neymar signs with Barcelona
It is important to highlight that pointing out the irregularities and mistakes made by the board on Neymar's signing does not mean anyone is against the player himself or his family. This is about the lies (and possible crimes) Sandro Rosell and his board did in the operation to sign the player.
After paying €10 million for Neymar in 2011, FC Barcelona finally brought Neymar, and Sandro Rosell finally had what would become Nike’s main star on his team, but that only happened with certain “financial engineering”:
The pre-contract signed in 2011 with the player did not breach FIFA rules because Santos had authorized it. It was revealed that Barcelona paid €10 million to N&N, Neymar’s company, which was run by Neymar’s father for a preference on his signing after the 2014 World Cup. So far so good, the club paid a reasonable sum to guarantee they would bring the biggest young star in the world in the upcoming years.
The contract had a clause stating that if Barcelona did not sign Neymar in 2014, they would have to pay €40 million, or if Neymar signed with other club, the player would have to pay the club €40 million. The issue lies with this clause that the club signed Neymar a year before the World Cup and had to pay another €30 million to Neymar's company.
Combined with the fee previously paid to the player, Barcelona paid €40 million to player, and €17 million to Santos for a total of €57 million. At the time, it was considered a bargain.
July 8th, 2013 - Atlético Madrid was gifted with Spain's All Time Top Scorer
David Villa suffered a serious injury during the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, causing him to miss most matches, and he failed to make an impact in the 2012/13 season. Although he was far from the player he was before the injury.
Less than six months later, Villa was sold to Atlético Madrid for a mere €2 million. Reports were leaked to the media that if he had stayed another season, then his salary would have skyrocketed to €13 million in his final year of the season, something unproven until today.
In exchange for David Villa, Atlético Madrid gave Barcelona the first option on the young right back Javier Manquillo, currently on loan at Liverpool, and Saúl Níguez, currently with Atlético Madrid. The first option on both players was never mentioned again.
Simeone and his men went on to win La Liga in the final round at the Camp Nou with David Villa on their ranks, after he was supposedly sold to save money.
July 14th, 2013 - Thiago Alcântara was sold to pay Neymar
Thiago was pushed out of the club for the lowest price he could contractually be sold to enable the signing of Neymar. The Spaniard was not a traitor by leaving for Bayern Munich to join Guardiola.
He had a clause on his contract that stated if he did not play a certain amount of minutes per season, then his €90 million clause would decrease to €18 million. Strangely, in the final months of the season, Thiago began to play less, something that corroborates that he was meant to be sold from the start. He left for €20 million, plus a million earned in a friendly with Bayern Munich and €4m of his salary that Thiago waived to leave to Bavaria.
Injuries aside, Thiago had everything to become Xavi's heir, but the priority was money once again, from a necessity to bring Neymar. Thus, showing once again the lack of planning and disregard to La Masia by the board.
August 28th, 2013 - Qatar Foundation becomes Qatar Airways
In December 2010, Sandro Rosell signed a shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation, and informed Barcelona members that it was out of necessity. He also said that they were a respectable philanthropic institution. The contract was not signed with Qatar Foundation only, but with Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), stating that Barcelona could approve a possible change of sponsorship brand in case QSI asked for it. The club accepted the change and the shirt sponsorship became Qatar Airways.
From that moment on, the Camp Nou became full of Qatar Airways advertising, even on the seats while the players were involved into televised promotions. Such change would normally warrant an increase in the sponsorship income, but the same compensation was kept as Qatar started using Barcelona's historic stadium and world class players (and brands) to promote them.
There might be more clauses hidden inside the contract signed by Sandro Rosell as Johan Cruyff warned the club years ago.
October 2nd, 2013 - MCM sues Futbol Club Barcelona for €100 million
MCM is a company hired to place a second skin with LEDs around the new La Masia, allowing them to use them to exploit the building commercially with ad placements. The contract was originally signed by Joan Laporta, but Sandro Rosell and the Barcelona board signed a new one, and failed to fulfil it.
In MCM’s lawsuit for the breach of contract, it was made clear that the contract was drawn up and signed by Sandro Rosell himself, with new clauses that substituted and canceled the previous agreement signed by Laporta. This confirmed the control over the management of exploring La Masia’s walls to MCM, with profits shared between both parties.
It is important to highlight that MCM is a small company willing to put millions of euros to proceed with this lawsuit considering the size of FC Barcelona and the money the club can spend towards lawyers. The company is confident they will, in the worst case scenario, reach some sort of agreement. They are asking for €100 million in reparations for what they have lost from this breach of contract.
It is baffling to know that the club does not allow MCM to start exploring the La Masia building when they know they are entitled to 50% of a business that is going to generate millions of euros to the club. It gets even worse when there is little to no press coverage regarding this matter while none of the big law firms in Barcelona are defending the club in such perilous lawsuit.
The board has reserved only one million euros to deal with this lawsuit, which is odd considering that MCM is asking for a hundred times more. Either the club reaches an agreement with MCM or lose the case, which could cost millions.
The Judge will make a verdict on April 9th, 2015,
October 15th, 2013 - A generation of children who won’t go to the Camp Nou
Ever since the Camp Nou was built in 1957, club members could attend matches with their children. Back then, it was a long wooden bench painted in green, so logically there weren’t any seats; just numbers marked on the wooden bench. The members would get closer to each other to enjoy matches with their families. Later on, when seats were put in place and the wooden benches were gone, it still worked. If no members were near you, you could place your kid next to you and watch the match. Also, 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.
It worked without incidents for decades.
When Rosell became President in 2010, one of his promises was to fight for earlier kick off times for matches, so that more children could attend. Rosell himself claimed that he used to go to the Camp Nou with his father and sit on his lap. But he never did that. In fact, he was going to add insult to injury.
One week before the Clásico, and minus any previous warning whatsoever, Barcelona was now barring the members' children below the age of 8 to enter the Camp Nou without tickets, something that has been always been the case over the years. Once again, Sandro Rosell and his board were thinking about money, instead of our club’s values and traditions. Sandro would go on to say: “I don’t want to ever hear that Sandro Rosell was responsible for the death of a child”. Something that, of course, had never happened before at the Camp Nou. Since it was decided a week before the Clásico, the aim was to sell even more tickets seemed very clear.
The children that were attending the matches were registered members. Each of them had their own ID with their parents paying for it. Why did the board fail to adequately inform the members of this change with proper notice, so that the parents could decide if it was still worth it to keep paying for their children’s membership? Yet again, zero concern about the members and their money.
Now that Rosell is gone, and with elections coming up, Bartomeu not only brought the children back to the Camp Nou, but now every member below the age of 14 does not need tickets to attend matches. Security concerns? Irrelevant again.
December 9th, 2013 - The Neymar Case begins and Rosell flees
The €40 million paid to Neymar’s company were not forgotten by the members and some of them sought out their rights, as club members, to be informed of the contract details so they could see what the club had done when they signed Neymar. The club failed to comply with that demand, whereby one of the members, Jordi Cases, decided to sue the club for embezzlement with Sandro Rosell named as responsible. It was the beginning of the end.
On December 16th, the Judge demanded the club to deliver all the contracts from the Neymar operation to analyze it in order to decide whether to accept the lawsuit or not. The Spanish Fiscal Authorities followed suit and asked for Barcelona's financial statements between 2012 and 2013.
Sandro Rosell held a press conference on January 20th, 2014 and decided to “ask the Judge to summon him, to show how transparent he is and that he accepts Case’s lawsuit to explain everything without breaching the confidentiality clause on Neymar’s contracts”. Two days later, he was summoned. Audiencia Nacional accepted the lawsuit and the fiscal authorities were also going to pursue it.
One day later, on January 23rd, 2014, Sandro Rosell became the first runaway President in the history of Futbol Club Barcelona. One day after confirming the lawsuit would continue, Rosell was leaving the Presidency “due to an attack made against me and my family”. He claimed someone fired a BB gun towards his home. An attack that conveniently happened during the three days between Rosell asking for the Judge to move forward with the lawsuit and the Judge actually doing it.
The man responsible for all you have read so far was gone. Our next President was now Bartomeu, one of his close friends, and one of the Presidents in Barcelona’s history that no one had voted for that would, in theory, stay in charge for another season.
January 24th, 2014 - Bartomeu reveals Neymar’s cost was €86 million
When Sandro Rosell was questioned about Neymar’s cost, he said, emphatically, that it had been “€57 million, period”. And when the members, like Jordi Cases, asked to see the contracts, he claimed “there were confidentiality clauses that can’t be breached”.
One day after Rosell left, the new President was given permission by Neymar’s father to breach the confidentiality clauses, revealing that Barcelona had spent €86 million on Neymar, his wages for the next 5 years weren't included. Only the actual amount of money we spent to sign him, the entire operational cost.
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