offpitch | 2015-07-17
Joan Laporta interviewed by TV3 and El País
Sports in General
"I want Messi to continue, I want to restore La Masia and I want UNICEF on our shirts - all of this along with a strong President. La Masia is the base of Barça's future. It's a big part of my proposal. We have shown that we know how to lay the foundations for the future. We want to continue to play the football that is recognized all over the world, but we need to recover La Masia."
"Their model is unstable. They even asked the socis whether or not they wanted to sell Messi… It is obvious that an environment was created so that the socis would say yes to Espai Barça and to selling Messi. I want Messi to stay happy and we're the only guarantee for that. I want to make him more comfortable at Barcelona. I've shared important moments with him, like his first signed [pro] contract. I believe that he represents the shield of Barça"
"Luis Enrique will continue. He's very mature and he went through many different stages last season. He also introduced a new style. Rijkaard and Pep created the best systems for Barça and Luis Enrique is continuing to do so."
“Cruyff? He's my friend and precious to me. He's also recognized all over the world. Sporting wise, he'd be a reference point."
"I left behind the best Barça in history. A Catalan club open to the rest of the world with great respect."
"I stand by a more modern, transparent, innovative, international and professional Barça.”
“We want the best contracts on the market. We want better relationships with international organizations, like UEFA, FIFA, etc. We want a President who defends Barça's interests. It's also fundamental to be transparent economically."
"This organization has always accompanied our country with historic compromises. I'll also make it easy for fans outside of Catalonia. Should Barça's President support Catalonia's fight for independence? Yes, of course. I'm an 'independendista'."
"I have a positive proposal so that Barça will continue to win and a base will be built for the next ten years."
"The signing of Neymar could end up costing Barça €220 million. If I was the one being prosecuted for corruption, tax fraud and scam, I wouldn't put myself forward for the elections. Joan Oliver is being accused [of fraud], but he will not run for President. He's the best person to be the General Director."
“A few Barça players have sent me messages wishing me good luck. I have always liked Arda Turan. Whether Abidal thinks he's an appropriate player for Barça or not is another matter. If I become President, I'll try to sign Pogba as long as the technical secretary and the coach want it. The key for the signing is Mino Raiola and the interest of the technical staff. I've always respected the wage levels at Barça. I think it's the optimal model to stabilize the club."
"In 2009, these players won everything there was to win and I think we have to be fair to those who did their job well. The 2-6 is one of those days when children became lifelong Barça fans..."
"I don't think it would fit Real Madrid to buy Puyol, just like it doesn't fit Barça to buy either Casillas or Ramos."
"I do not like the whistles at the national anthem, but I understand the course. Barça has to have a commitment to the current situation in Catalonia."
"I do not think Qatar is the only option for the Barca shirt. I prefer UNICEF."
Freixa and Benedito
"Freixa and Benedito should just pull out from elections. They don't have any chance of winning according to all the polls and from what I've been told. Benedito says he's catching up on me. It's not true. He is light-years behind me and so is Freixa. They should just pack their bags and leave it to Bartomeu and I. Their numbers are very, very low."
"I am rising in the polls, although I am still behind Bartomeu, while the others are falling further behind."
"I would quit and let the others get more votes, if I was Benedito and Freixa. I'd give my support to the candidate who is most similar to me. If they like my ideas and views, they should pull out and support me. Running despite having no chance to win will hurt my chances."
"We should do what's best for Barça. If there are candidates with similar views, then there's no point in stealing votes from each other."
"Bartomeu is a weak President. He doesn't have the courage to join a debate and defend his club. Barça needs a stronger leader. He’s showing a lack of respect by not going to the debates. It’s also disrespectful to the socis.”
"Bartomeu is not going to debates because he knows he's in a bad position due to all his lies and court cases. I don't think we can trust Bartomeu because he has lied to us. He has acted in a very irresponsible way."
"A Barça President should be active, dynamic and energetic. I want to be that again. I like challenges."
“We cannot disassociate Bartomeu and Rosell. Bartomeu is Rosell, Rosell is Bartomeu. We need a strong President who defends Barça and its values. Not a weak one."
"You cannot be President of Barça if you are prosecuted for corruption."
"Any last comments?”
“[I want to] Win! I just really want to win."
Laporta to El País: We have to have another revolution
You are considered a winner but the current polls say Bartomeu is going to win, do you take that as a challenge?
Yes. It’s important to have the perception you can win and I have it. We have a good chance of winning, even the worst polls put me five points behind Bartomeu. I’m very excited, I feel strong and I’m pleased with what I’m doing. I’m looking forward more than ever to being Barcelona president.
Why is that?
Because I feel that our proposal is what Barça needs. Bartomeu’s option is to return to the past and I refuse that. Going back to the past is to ruin the club. Another thing is Nuñez’s heritage, like the treasury records valued at €60M that we had to pay for. And now, for the Neymar case the total amount could increase to a further €122M [in fines]. Bartomeu’s candidacy is full of indictments and is supported by convicted persons [former president Nuñez] and the club doesn’t deserve Bartomeu’s pretension to hide behind this institution. It’s obvious he has a conflict of interests.
Back in 2003 you turned around Barça’s situation but as of now, in your return, aren’t you still a slave to that candidacy?
With time you gain experience. If you evolve well you get wiser and that allows you to look at things in a calm way. But I also feel like that same enthusiastic Laporta because I haven’t lost my desire or my strength. I’m having a good time on this campaign. I get to see those happy faces again when I travel around the country. The key is surely placed on our ability to mobilize the culés.
You are considered above all a charismatic leader.
I have that feeling because I see it in people; they want the joy to return to Barça. Other proposals are boring and mines is a proposal of modern and expert change.
Are you admired or feared?
I don’t see myself as being feared.
Are you a better leader than Bartomeu but do you have a worse board?
The difference is that they’re accused of corruption and I’m not. They take black and white photocopies and I do them in color. Theirs are antagonistic models.
Don’t you think Bartomeu works with the Managing Commission's complicity?
I saw enough with the first day photo to realize that the desired fair game wouldn’t exist in the elections. They have overreached in their duties, especially with Deulofeu’s transfer.
And what is the link between Bartomeu’s candidacy and Qatar?
They’re bound to each other for unknown reasons. The contract has not been shown. There has been a lack of transparency and I believe there’s a [hidden] interest. I believe the contract can be broken.
Do you need a media hit with Pogba like you did before with Beckham?
The Pogba theme is more in the media and on the streets. Back in 2003, we needed him [Beckham]. Now there’s stability on the pitch, despite Bartomeu wanting to renew Tata and making life impossible for Guardiola. He hasn’t been able to damage the sports section despite all his efforts. Our proposal is powerful, elaborate and the people are more thoughtful.
And why did you wait so long to announce your candidacy?
Because the elections hadn’t yet been called and I wanted to finish my term as councillor. But I saw that there was no other option that could beat the status quo and for that we have to have another revolution. I wanted to analyze it thoroughly. So I worked with calmness and I didn’t compromise any family business.
The feeling is that many of the notable figures that have supported you would rather be your advisors than be on your board. Does that make your candidacy weaker?
We are very lucky to have those notable advisors. It’s important that our decisions have the input of people very close to us like Cruyff, Guardiola…
But don’t you foresee any trouble with Luis Enrique since he’s now more like the Sporting Manager than the coach and you give a lot of importance to the sporting area, especially the Sporting Director?
The technical secretary is important to Barça. It was with Txiki and it will be with Abidal. The coach's duty is to train and advise on the signings, especially regarding specific positions. But the market is researched by the Sporting Director, it worked that way for us and we’ll continue in this manner.
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