opinions | 2016-06-04
Why Barcelona continues to sign players from Traffic?
After Keirrison, Henrique, Douglas and Robert Gonçalves, the club would do well to avoid dealing with the Brazilian sports agency
The regimes of Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeu as Barça presidents differed in some aspects, but shared similar traits. They all saw the club win domestic titles along with European and International titles with superb players guiding the club during all three regimes. Unfortunately, these presidents also have the unique distinction of also signing certain Brazilian players, owned by Traffic, who have done nothing of significance for the club. This begs the question of why were these deals ever made and it would be nice if someone can ask president Bartomeu about this matter at the upcoming Ordinary General Assembly.
It is no secret that Laporta is at odds with Rosell and Bartomeu when it comes to way Barça is managed. Each regime’s ideology vastly differed with respect on which types of managers and players should be at Barcelona. However, they do share a common denomination when it comes to dubious transfers with a certain Brazilian sports event management company, Traffic, that have provided the club with players who hardly featured and proved to be useless.
Under Laporta, Barça signed Henrique and Keirrison. Under Rosell, Barça signed Douglas and the current president Bartomeu, Barça signed Robert Gonçalves for Barça B. Henrique and Keirrison never featured for Barça while Robert Gonçalves was released this week by the club after not appearing in a single league match for Barça B. Only Douglas remains, yet there are rumors that Barça are prepared to offload him this summer. This was money poorly spent on Traffic clients who were not useful or a part of the first team.
The first Brazilian, Henrique, was signed in the summer of 2008 during Pep Guardiola’s inaugural summer preseason. At the time, Henrique was a 21 year old centre back signed from Palmeiras. His signing cost the club €8 million plus €2 million in bonuses. The only time Barça fans saw Henrique in a Blaugrana kit was during preseason training and friendlies. After signing with Barça, he was loaned to Bayer Leverkusen for one season, and then went on loan again, this time to Racing Santander for two seasons, before returning to Palmeiras also on loan. On June 1, 2012, Barça terminated their contract with Henrique.
The second Brazilian, Keirrison, or K9 as he was once nicknamed, was signed in the summer of 2009. At the time, Keirrison was a 20 year old striker who also was a member of Palmeiras. His signing cost the club €14 million plus €2 million in bonuses. Just like Henrique, he would never feature under Guardiola who clearly said “the club has decided to sign him but in principle he’ll go out on loan. I won’t be counting on him for this season”. Ultimately, not one single Barça manager counted on him for any season. K9 was loaned out to Benfica, Fiorentina, Santos, Cruzeiro, and Curitiba before his deal ended in the summer of 2014. He is now playing in Brazil’s second division.
Henrique and Keirrison have a lot in common. Both joined Barça from Palmeiras. Both are related to each other, Keirrison is married to Henrique’s sister. Finally, both have their rights owned by Traffic. Desportivo Brasil Participações Ltda was paid €2 million for Henrique’s transfer to Barcelona. Just who is Desportivo Brasil? Desportivo Brasil, founded on November 19th of 2005, is part of a strategy of the Traffic Group comprising two independent projects with focus in the area of football, which can also work together, supposedly providing great synergy. Basically, Traffic created Desportivo Brasil which will be discussed further ahead. When Barça signed K9, Traffic Sports Marketing owned 80% of the player’s rights. In the end, neither player signed by Laporta did anything for the Barça except cost the club €24 million in transfer fees.
One would assume that Rosell and Bartomeu, who considered themselves to be different, and better than Laporta, would avoid making these types of deals at all costs. Think again! This regime was delighted to entertain us Barça fans with the signing of Douglas back in the summer of 2014. At the time, Douglas was a 24 year old fullback from São Paulo and his signing cost the club €4 million plus €1.5 million in bonuses. What was surprising was that not many knew of Douglas and those who did know of him, did not rate him highly. What was further surprising was that Traffic owned 40% of the player’s rights. Unlike Henrique and K9, Douglas became a member of the first team and has featured for the club, albeit sparingly. His future is uncertain but as of today, he is still a Barça player and continues to be the favorite punchline for the Blaugrana faithful.
It is mind boggling to understand why Rosell would sign Douglas and why Bartomeu would also go after another Traffic player. I guess the old saying of “third time’s a charm” following the Douglas signing did not apply when the club green lit the loan signing of Robert Gonçalves for Barça B back in January. The 20 year forward was picked up on loan from Fluminense for the second half of Barça B’s season. Yet again, the club signed someone who Traffic owned a percentage of his rights since he was 12. Robert was a disaster, arriving overweight, unfit and only played 30 minutes against Sabadell in the Copa Catalunya. His loan was terminated on Tuesday and is yet another chapter of the suspicious relationship between Barça and Traffic Sports.
So who are Traffic exactly? In 1980, Jose Hawilla bought Traffic and made it into Brazil’s biggest diversified sports marketing group. He transformed it from a company that sold advertising for bus stops to one that secured contracts for marketing of the TV rights and sponsorship for Copa America, and for marketing Brazil’s national team. In 2005, Hawilla was behind the creation of Desportivo Brasil, a football club with the objective to train and prepare young football talents to play for clubs in Brazil and around the world. Of course, with every transfer, Traffic had a percentage of the transfer fee since they own a percentage of the players’ rights.
Now, one would ask why would Barça, yet again, deal with Traffic after the first three dubious signings. Better yet, why would they still be interested in Traffic players after Jose Hawilla pleaded guilty on 12 December 2014 to corruption charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering? Instead of distancing themselves from a suspect organization, the club sees no problem in doing business with them.
So it would be nice if, at the club’s next Barça Ordinary General Assembly, someone can ask club president Bartomeu why does the club continue to deal with Traffic players? It has never been prolific for the club on the pitch nor has it been a boost financially. Please Barça, cease and desist from signing Traffic owned players.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
WRITTEN BY: Ibrahim
Ibrahim has been an FC Barcelona fan since the final years of the "Dream Team" era. He is an official fan club member of the FC Barcelona Miami Penya since 2008 where he also blogs on their website. Besides occasionally writing for Grup 14, he has also has written for FC Barcelona Miami Penya website and for Forza Football about Barça and Spanish football-related topics and occasionally about the Oranje, Netherland’s National Football team, his first football love dating to 1988, for Football-Oranje.
Besides sports, his other passion is the law. He is currently an attorney in the state of Florida specializing in Immigration Law.