offpitch | 2015-07-17
Benedito to El País: I will bring Marco Verratti to Barcelona
The Spanish outlet El País interviewed Agustí Benedito. The precandidate talked about his views on the other candidacies, Espai Barça, Qatar and more.
If you don’t win the elections would that be a failure or a logical consequence of the Bartomeu-Laporta bipolarization?
Not winning the elections would be to fail in the objective we set ourselves six years ago.
Does having more candidates in the elections benefit Bartomeu?
That’ll depend on each candidate’s ability to convince his supporters to vote. If they are more candidates, the winner will get less votes.
Do you have the feeling that there are candidacies which are growing while othes are stagnating?
Bartomeu is facing more troubles than what is being reported in some newspapers. Laporta, technically, is not doing a good campaign. Some polls pegged Laporta as the winner by a 10- to 12-point margin and now see where he’s at: behind Bartomeu, trailing by a lot and losing votes. There are polls saying we are surpassing him [Laporta].
What do you mean by “technically”?
I have the feeling Laporta doesn’t have a program, just four very well known ideas [Cruyff, La Masia, Catalunya and UNICEF]. And I don’t see anything other than the mere repetition of these four concepts. Maybe the campaign strategy is good and I’m wrong, but the way he has chosen the timing and the announcements is based solely on his charisma. I think he believes that just by presenting himself for the elections, 80 percent of the work is done. If that’s the case, he’s wrong.
Is the Managing Commission campaigning for Bartomeu?
What Bartomeu has done is disloyalty to the essence of our club and a disrespect to the socís. I have never witnessed such an evident fraud in the Commission’s selection process. He has used every available resource given by the club, which in a way was predictable, like the census usage or the last minute decisions made on his mandate [Alves’ and Luis Enrique’s renewals] but how he has used the Commission on his favor is the greatest electoral scandal I’ve seen in recent years.
Does Freixa’s appearance make your role as the alternative more complicated?
He runs a very good campaign and he knows the club well but he’s not affecting us. On the contrary, he’s helping us by taking votes off Bartomeu.
You’re being cautious about Espai Barça and you’re opposed to Qatar, how do you control such an investment to build a good stadium?
We all have agreed the stadium needs an important remodeling, quite the opposite from five years ago when we all said the Foster project was a silliness. We have gone from not wanting to spend a dime to [willingness to spend up to] €600 million. I don’t agree with the financing, because the club is not in an ideal situation to guarantee an operation that will surpass €800 million. How do we fund that? In an Excel spreadsheet everything is possible.
And what about Qatar?
I don’t understand how someone is able to say that the only interested corporation to sponsor the best team in the world is Qatar. They didn’t want to listen to some companies that knocked on Barça’s door. Some have come to us and I’m sure once we have won the elections, we will sign a contract with a company that doesn’t shame us and it’ll be better than Manchester United’s sponsorship [which is €70 million].
You have always been opposed to the endorsements [financial guarantee that must be paid in order to run for president], why isn’t this more discussed instead of other matters?
I don’t know why but the endorsements are contrary to the essence of a club which is owned by 144,000 people. Where is it written that a group of people with €77 million can perform any better than those groups without the money? The solution would be to eradicate this.
And then how do you secure the club’s patrimony?
The way you secure the Generalitat’s [Catalunya’s government] budget. You answer to the commercial and penal laws. Let’s imagine Deloitte saying an outgoing president is losing €60 million, who wouldn’t sell Messi? Or are you going to leave the board with your head high but cause the ruin of your family and grandchildren? Instead of guaranteeing good management, the endorsements can result to a wrong decision with the purpose of saving the endorsements. That is the trap; nobody in the world does this.
You’re putting your money on Verratti and Monchi [Sevilla FC’s sporting director] but they’re hardly going to move out of their clubs.
I try to focus on the proposals but Monchi’s name came up in Seville and something similar happened with Verratti. I’m convinced I’ll bring Verratti to Barça. Monchi’s case is different, I spoke with him several times before and he’s very happy at Sevilla. When I win the elections I’ll try to convince him to join us. My negotiating position is not the same as a candidate and as a president.
What attitude must the club maintain regarding the Catalan independence movement?
Whoever wants to make Barça a political factor, do not vote for me. We will damage the club and the political process. Barça must align itself with the defense of the right to decide on our future, that’s a democratic principle. I can have the legitimacy of 14,000 Catalans but in order to run the Generalitat, you need the vote of one million people. Barça has many pro independence members, myself included, but there are tens of thousands that aren’t and I’m proud to have some of them in my team, they don’t share my political views. I have to try to be the president for everyone.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.